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Mediterra Blog

How to Make Sure Your Home is Winter-Ready Before Heading South

by Arelys Alexander

Maybe you’ve been counting down the days until you can head back to your winter home in Southwest Florida or maybe just the thought of packing up your summer home has your head spinning. Either way, it’s fall and the cold rain and impending snow means it’s time to follow the birds and head south for the winter. Thankfully, Mediterra’s preferred Naples homebuilder, London Bay Homes, has put together a list of necessary steps to ensure your home is locked up tight for when the winter months start wreaking havoc on your summer residence. Our recommendation is that you print out this list and check off each item as you complete it so you know every precaution has been taken.

For the Exterior of Your Luxury Homes 

  • Find a friend or relative to shovel snow off your walkway and driveway, or if you really like your friends and relatives, just hire someone to do it for you. This will make your home look like there is someone still in it.
  • Remove dead trees or large, overhanging limbs. Debris equals projectile.
  • Bring outside furniture, grills, and garbage cans into your garage or storage shed. I repeat, debris equals projectile.
  • Prevent ice dams by cleaning out your gutters so water can flow out freely and not back into your home.
  • Add extensions to downspouts so water can flow freely away from your home. Extensions should lead the water 3-4 feet away from your home.
  • Have your roof inspected for missing or damaged shingles that may cause the roof to leak in your absence. It is also a good idea to have your chimney inspected and make sure you have a wire screen over the top of your chimney to prevent small animals from enjoying a new home for the winter.
  • Turn off the exterior faucets, disconnect your hose, and then drain the water from your hose so it will not freeze. This includes your irrigation system.
  • Caulk around the edges of your windows and doors to ensure there won’t be any heat escaping. The gaps on your windows and doors should not exceed the width of a nickel. Any bigger than that and you’ll lose heat.
  • Remember those leaves that have already started to fall? Make good use of them by mowing over the dry leaves and allowing them to sit on top of your grass. This “mulch” will nourish your lawn over the winter months.
  • Stow your mower on an empty gas tank or fill the gas tank with stabilized fuel that can withstand sitting in the tank all winter. Regular gas left in the tank will get old and will give you problems once you try to start it in the spring.
  • Consider installing motion-detector lights on the exterior of your home.

For the Interior of Your Luxury Homes

  • Whether you’re heating your home during your absence or not, water may still freeze in your pipes, so turn off the main water valve and have a professional drain your pipes before you go. The last thing you want is to have the pipes burst due to the expansion of the ice. You may also want to add non-toxic antifreeze to your toilet tanks and bowls to prevent freeze damage.
  • Have your furnace or heat pump inspected to make sure it is clean and in good working order. You may not care if the house is a little colder while you’re gone, but you don’t want to have to deal with the long list of homeowners that end up calling these companies upon their return because their heater went kaput while they were gone.
  • Have your home inspected for any air leaks or insufficient insulation in your attic so ice dams won’t form and cause water to back up in your home.
  • Have your home thoroughly cleaned before you leave. This includes washing all of your sheets and towels. You’ll need to wash them upon your return, but it’s much more sanitary to leave them fresh and only allow them to collect dust during the winter.
  • Toss out all of the food and garbage. We know we do not want to come home to food or garbage that has been sitting for months, and we are rather sure you don’t either.
  • Schedule for someone to tend to your plants while you are gone or give them away before you leave.
  • Cover your furniture to protect it from light and dust.
  • Set your thermostat to anywhere between 55 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave your furnace running to prevent pipes from bursting and make sure you have monitoring systems in place that will alert you if the furnace malfunctions.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans so they go clockwise and push down the heat that naturally rises.

Following Through With Your Day to Day Routines

  • Forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery.
  • Stop your garbage service.
  • Temporarily discontinue phone, internet, and cable services. You may have the option of forwarding your calls to your vacation home in the south or your cell phone.
  • Turn on your alarm system and set interior lights on timers to make it appear as though someone is home. Let your alarm service provider know you will be away and for how long.
  • Install dead bolt locks for your doors and slide locks for your sliding glass doors and French doors.
  • Stow your valuables in a safe deposit box or another secure location.
  • Designate a family member or friend to be the emergency contact to all of your vendors and provide them with access to your home should something happen in your absence.
  • Pay your bills before you leave and consider setting them up on autopay so you don’t miss any payments.
  • Bring copies of your important documents and medical records. Also make sure to transfer your prescriptions to the pharmacy you will be using in Southwest Florida.
  • Consider shipping your personal belonging to eliminate the hassle of bringing everything yourself.

There is a lot on this list, but every one of these items can make the difference between arriving and seeing your home just as you left it or coming back to a big surprise – and not the good kind. Speaking of surprises, don’t forget to call your home watch company to make sure your Mediterra home is fresh and ready for your arrival. London Bay Homes’ Home Watch and Estate Management department will take care of all of your home watch needs while you are away and will also make sure to “open” your home before your arrival.

Contact us if you want to find out how London Bay Homes can help facilitate the freshening up of your Mediterra home before your arrival. If you’re still looking for a semi-permanent or permanent residence in beautiful Naples, FL, feel free to set up your private tour of Mediterra or download our brochure to learn more.

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