If you’re heading out of town before winter weather hits, there are a few things you can do to get your house ready for colder temperatures. Prepare your home before leaving for winter. Here are a few steps to take to protect your house from water damage, theft, heating system problems, and electrical issues.

Check Your Homeowners Insurance

Look for stipulations in your insurance policy. Some policies won’t payout, for example, if you leave for longer than four days and forget to turn the water off.

Other policies won’t payout if you leave without hiring a housesitter. Some policies require a housesitter if your home is vacant for more than two months. Familiarize yourself with your policy, so you’ll know if the property is covered while you’re away.

Use Smart Technology to Prepare Your Home Before Leaving For Winter

Common advice is to use timers on lights when leaving for the winter. Unfortunately, some thieves have learned to watch for lights that turn off and on at the same time every night. Today’s technology allows you to control your home’s lighting and appliances from your smartphone.

Turn Off the Water to Prepare Your Home Before Leaving

Turn off the entire water supply before leaving for the winter. You might experience burst pipes or leaks if you leave the water on while you’re away. Find the main water line shut-off valve and turn it to the off position.

If for any reason you don’t want to shut the water off, then you need to allow water to move through the system. Turn on a faucet at the farthest point from where water enters the home, such as the upstairs bathroom, and also a faucet located closest to the entry point. Just a very small flow will keep water moving through the system while you’re away.

Drain the Water Lines

Pipes that have water remaining in them are at risk for freezing. If water inside a pipe freezes, the pipe will likely burst as the ice expands. After you turn off the main water supply, open the faucets in the house and flush the toilets. Keep the water running until it becomes a slow drip. Flush the toilets until the tanks and bowls are empty.

Insulate Your Pipes to Prepare Your Home Before Leaving Town

Whether you turn the main water supply off or not, insulate your pipes before you leave. You can purchase pipe wrap and insulation tubes at your local hardware store. Make sure you wrap pipes from the water heater, in the crawl space, and any outdoor pipes. Completing this step will help prevent pipes from bursting during freezing weather.

Turn the Heat Down

Don’t turn the furnace off completely because that can contribute to freezing pipes and other problems. Lower the thermostat instead. Set it to 62 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a good temperature for keeping all components and systems in the home at a safe temperature.

Prepare Your Home Before Leaving Town by Unplugging Appliances

Prevent fire by unplugging electrical appliances. Unplug the TV, coffee maker, microwave, toaster, and any other unnecessary devices. You’ll probably leave the fridge running and want to leave any lights or appliances operated by your smartphone connected to a power source.

RE/INSPEX provides home inspection services to northwestern North Carolina. Contact us to schedule an appointment.