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Whether you’re a snowbird heading south for winter, a family with a summer home by the ocean, or the owner of a camp that loses its charm in the dead of winter, you’re going to want to prepare your vacant home to fend for itself through the winter months. Here are some tips on how to best prepare your empty home to withstand the colder weather while you’re not around to make sure everything is running as it should.

  1. Turn off the water supply. This can prevent your pipes from freezing and potentially bursting on very cold days. If you’re leaving a home in an area where freezing pipes can be a problem, drain all waterlines including toilets, the water heater, and the expansion tank.
  2. Unplug all appliances. Not only can this protect against potential electrical shortages, but it will also save you money as your unused appliances will not be using any phantom energy.
  3. Turn off your gas line. This will help to prevent gas leaks or other related incidents.
  4. Guard against unwanted guests. Clean out your fridge, your freezer, and your pantry, leaving only dry, nonperishable foods in air-tight containers. Also be sure to put away any soaps, sponges, or candles, take out any trash, and clean kitchen areas thoroughly.
  5. Close your damper or flue. That way no snow, rain, or animals can find a way into your home.
  6. Turn down the thermostat. You’ll want to keep the inside temperature above freezing and at a level where everything will stay dry. Somewhere between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended temperature.
  7. Bundle the house up tight! You want your home to look like the little boy from A Christmas Story, especially if it’s in an area prone to snow storms. Install storm windows and doors, close the shudders, store all your outdoor furniture and decorations, and make sure you leave everything closed and locked tight.
  8. Clean your gutters. Otherwise water might not be able to pass through them and they could freeze over and break during the winter.

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