Maintaining a summer home so that it's protected over the winter takes a little work, but isn't it worth it?
- Step 1: Cover boats, motor sports vehicles, and other property with tarps and lock it all in sheds. Lock all doors and windows. Ask a neighbor to check on everything periodically.
- TIP: For remote locations, get a security system to arrange warnings of break-ins or fires.
- Step 2: Take home any valuables. Be smart and safe even if it's a hassle. When you return next summer, you'll be glad you made the effort!
- FACT: The U.S. Travel Association estimated in 2008 that only 9 percent of leisure travelers chose a "staycation," or elected to have a home-based vacation.
- Step 3: Empty gas from the mower, trimmers, and other outdoor equipment to avoid spring repairs. Remove fuel storage containers and petroleum-soaked rags from the premises.
- Step 4: Shut off the main water valve and drain it so the pipes don't freeze. Next, siphon all of the water from your water heater to prevent any winter damage. Starting at the top floor, open all remaining faucets and flush toilets. Blow the remaining water out of water lines with an air compressor and fill traps with safe RV antifreeze solution.
- Step 5: Repair and fill the smallest holes and cracks in the exterior foundation and eaves to maintain the summer home. Cover the chimney to keep pests from getting inside.
- TIP: Pay a home management service company locally to manage the property. They can bring in a dock, clean gutters, drain sinks and toilets, and do other repairs and maintenance.
- Step 6: Remove food, medicine, and cosmetic containers that might freeze. Make sure the rest is in rodent-safe cans or sealed containers.
- Step 7: Unplug all electronics, lamps, and machines to prevent electrical fires. Dispose of fireplace and wood stove ashes. Remove combustibles, cleaners, and paints from the premises. Turn off the gas to the boiler and water heater.