October and November are the months when owners of beach homes typically close up for the winter. While some duties may vary based on your region or type of house, there are some things you should always consider doing if your property will be vacant for an extended period.
With only a little modification to cover alternative situations, below is the checklist I use.
Close for Winter Checklist
☐ Take inside umbrellas, light furniture, and any foam padding/cushions to avoid mold and mildew build up.
☐ Properly secure large furniture that will remain outdoors. I use a bungee cord to secure everything together and cover with a tarp (be sure to secure a tarp well, I use ratchet straps).
☐ Store inside a shed or garage garbage cans which have been rinsed well.
☐ While rinsing, use the garden hose and sprayer to rinse the dirt and debris off the blades and condensing coils of the outdoor AC unit.
☐ Shut off and drain outdoor water spigots to prevent freezing damage. Likewise, drain and bring in garden hoses.
☐ Check weather-stripping, exterior doors and windows to ensure no major deficiencies are present.
☐ Clean the house thoroughly! This includes:
☐ Remove all perishable foods. Any food that remains should be stored in airtight containers.
☐ Clean the oven to remove food particles.
☐ Clean out the refrigerator, freezer, sink traps and garbage disposal. (Again, we are trying to minimize the chance of rotting bits of food attracting any critters.) I leave the refrigerator on, but if you are shutting off the refrigerator, leave the door cracked open.
☐ Unplug household and major appliances.
☐ Pull shades down to protect from sun.
☐ Put dryer sheets with stored linens.
☐ Replace HVAC Air Filter and consider having your heating system serviced.
☐ Shut off cable TV.
☐ Forward US Mail.
☐ Turn off the water (requires shut off at main supply and draining all faucets. Typically, you should leave one faucet open on the lowest level of the house to allow air and excess water to drain).
☐ Keep your home warm enough to ensure the pipes do not freeze. I opt for 59°F to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities, where the water piping is likely located, above freezing temperatures sufficiently even if the power should go out for a bit.
☐ Ask a trusted local person to check in to perform a visual on the house occasionally…this could get as extensive as shoveling the driveway, looking for ice dams, snow drifts, etc. for you after big winter storms.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and attending to these items now can prevent a potential disaster and expensive service call. The checklist can also be downloaded as a Word document: End of Season Checklist.