Owning a summer home can be an amazing experience allowing for a quick change of scenery, yet still giving you all the familiarity and comforts that come with owning a home. However, as the summer season comes to an end, it may be time to close your vacation home and say goodbye until the weather warms again. Failing to properly close your summer home can have devastating consequences and leave you with some large repair bills and significant out-of-pocket costs. In this article, we are going to break down key considerations, provide a checklist for closing your vacation home, and examine some of the common risks and pitfalls associated with owning a seasonal home.
However, before we dive into the subject of closing up your seasonal home, we need to make an important distinction between winterized homes and unwinterized homes. This article will address the latter, but let’s first define what it means to have a winterized home versus an unwinterized home.
What Does It Mean To Winterize A Home
What does it mean to winterize a home, or rather have a winterized home? Simply put, winterizing a home is the process of preparing your plumbing system for an extended period of time with no heat and protecting them against freezing. This involves purging the entire system of water to avoid freezing and cracked pipes. If you plan on winterizing your home, there are a few more steps and considerations involved which we will address in a subsequent article. So let’s dive into the important considerations.
Should I Shut Off Heat & Electricity At My Summer Home?
The question of whether or not to shut off heat and electricity (in unwinterized homes) is a common question. The simple answer is, no, you should not shut off your heat and electricity. When shutting down your first thought may be to reduce costs during the winter and therefore shut off the electricity and heat. However, in many cases by simply turning the thermostat down (think 50 degrees) and keeping your home at a consistent temperature you can help protect your home from winter freezing temperatures and possible frozen pipes within the home. Remember, there is still water in your plumbing system, leaving your pipes susceptible to freezing and cracking if the temperature drops below zero.
One of the simpler steps to shutting down a summer home is to quickly unplug all unnecessary appliances in the home – particularly televisions and phones. Appliances can be an unnecessary drain on electricity driving up your bill, but can also be at risk of damage in the case of a lightning strike. Think of all your appliances that draw power to operate, but will not be used during the winter months, these should be top of the list – including your refrigerator.
Avoid the temptation though to shut off all power at the main circuit breaker. You will want to make sure if you have an alarm system, that it is powered as well as your home’s lights.
Empty The Fridge & Cupboards
Protecting your seasonal home against uninvited guests is no doubt a priority and this no doubt extends to rodents and pests. Remembering to remove food from cupboards and pantries is an absolute must to help protect against pests. And if you are not planning on heating your home during the winter, consider removing canned goods as they can freeze and burst. By leaving obvious sources of food in your home while you are away can invite pests to move into your home causing significant damage to your property.
As discussed above, the refrigerator is another important consideration on the checklist. The fridge draws a lot of power to keep cool and if it’s not being utilized it can help reduce costs. It is important to empty the fridge, unplug, and leave its doors slightly ajar. This will help prevent mold and mildew from growing while you are gone.
Turn Off The Gas
Turning off the gas supply is an often-recommended step when closing up your summer home. As your home will be unattended for an extended period, turning off the gas can help protect against fire breaking out in the case of natural disasters (think hurricanes).
Protecting Your Seasonal Home
A final key consideration is protecting your home from break-ins and burglary. With over 70% of home invasions occurring when a home is unoccupied, it is vital that homeowners take appropriate steps to help protect their home. Items such as redirecting mail, having landscaping maintained, newspapers & flyers collected, in addition to an active security system, can all help reduce the risk of break-ins.
Homeowners Insurance & Second Homes
Since they are usually not occupied daily, second homes typically pose a higher risk to insurance companies than primary homes. Because of this, you can expect to pay slightly more for your insurance on your secondary or seasonal home. Protective devices such as centrally monitored fire/burglar alarms, water shutoff devices with alarms, and low-temperature alarms can provide valuable discounts on most homeowners’ policies and will help prevent or minimize losses. It is also important to let your insurance company know if you occasionally rent out your second home to ensure you are covered properly.
About Deland, Gibson Insurance
Connect with your D,G advisor for more information. Deland, Gibson Insurance, helps you organize and identify risk. We also are risk advisors and insurance managers. Deland, Gibson now has locations in Wellesley, Dennis Port, and Franklin, MA. D,G is also more sector-focused. With over $80,000,000 of written premiums, the agency looks to continue fulfilling our mission as a client advocate Providing Peace of Mind Through Proactive Service.