Why winterize your home? The blustery winters of the Upper Peninsula make winterization a top priority if you’re going to be gone for any amount of time during the winter months.
Whether you’re heading out of town for:
- Holiday travel
- Closing up your seasonal home or camp
- Moving elsewhere while your home is on the market
- Or frequently travel for work
You need to prepare your home for temperature swings, freezing temps and more.
Read on to learn how to properly winterize your home from your local Marquette home inspector. These simple steps will help you protect your investment so it’s ready to be rented, sold, or otherwise occupied at a moment’s notice without any unforeseen issues or worry.
How to Winterize Your Home: Start with Plumbing
Winterizing your home should start with pipes and plumbing. This begins with draining all the lines to eliminate the chance of water freezing and expanding inside them (the top cause of broken pipes). If you’ll only be gone a couple days and don’t want the hassle of draining your pipes, there is another option. I typically recommend leaving water running (just a trickle) from the fixture nearest to where water enters the home and the furthest point indoors. Usually, an upstairs bathroom will do the trick. But remember, water needs to be constantly trickling to keep water flowing and avoid frozen pipes.
To learn how to drain your pipes for the winter, please watch the video in our blog, Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.
Now on to the water heater. If you choose to leave the pilot light on, it is not required to drain the water heater. But if you extinguish the pilot light, you should consider draining and turning off your water heater altogether. To do this, you will need to call a local licensed plumbing company.
And don’t forget about the throne! You can avoid cracked toilets by simply putting some antifreeze in both the tank and bowl. In fact, they make special antifreeze for bathrooms like this one here.
Why Keep the Heat On?
I always suggest keeping your heat on very low when winterizing your home. Yes, you may face a minimal utility bill, but that’s nothing in comparison to the potential repairs you could be saddled with if everything freezes up in your absence. Many systems in your home require being kept at or near room temperature to function correctly. Keep those systems and components secure by running your boiler or furnace at a low level. If you’re going to be gone all winter, you should also winterize the boiler – this is something you need to hire a professional for.
For more tips on furnace maintenance in the UP, please read my blog, Tips From a Marquette Home Inspector: Heating Maintenance in the U.P.
5 Additional Can’t-Miss Steps to Winterize Your Home
Water systems and plumbing are a top priority if you want to winterize your home in the Upper Peninsula. But don’t forget these other essential measures:
- Inspect your roof and attic. Attics and roofs are a huge deal if you’re planning to winterize your home. The small investment of a roof inspection could save you thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses (and headaches) in the long run.
- Clear and maintain your gutters. Avoid ice build-up and subsequent water intrusion issues by thoroughly cleaning and maintaining your gutters before heading out of town for the winter.
- Food storage. When the temperature drops, pests and rodents may seek refuge in your property. Avoid inviting them to stick around by keeping any dry food storage in airtight containers. Some people take the extra step of putting any secure food items in a large Rubbermaid tub.
- Unplug appliances. Plugged-in appliances like computers, routers, TVs, and sound systems, could cost you anywhere from $100 to $200 a year. Additionally, unplugging unnecessary appliances could protect them from being damaged from power surges during our notorious UP ice storms. Lastly, when winterizing your home, unplugging appliances can minimize electrical fire hazards. According to Consumer Reports, from 2006 – 2008, major appliances caused more than 150,000 residential fires each year, resulting in a staggering 150 deaths, 3,670 injuries, and 547 million dollars in property damage.
- Regular check-ins. Ask a friend or trusted neighbor to pop by your place every week or two to ensure everything is alright with your property. This simple favor can ensure you catch any potential problems early enough to be fixed before it’s too late.
Ready to Winterize Your Home? Schedule a Home Inspection Today!
The time has come to start planning for winter. If leaving your home unattended for any length of time is in the cards – be sure to schedule a home inspection today! If you have any questions about the home winterizing process or would like to get on our books for your inspection, please reach out to Rich Beasley, owner of U.P. Home Inspection LLC. Today at (906) 360-3879.