Are You Ready to Snowbird? Don’t head south without a plan for your current home.

Joining the flock of snowbirds south sounds like a heavenly adventure.

Warm weather
Blue skies.
Pickle Ball tournaments
Lots of exercise

There are so many advantages to heading south, but what about your home while away?

Don’t WAIT!  Now is the time to prepare for Snowbird Season. Many of the items on your list may take time and there is nothing more frustrating and stressful than to wait until the last minute and forget some of the most important items on your checklist. Not to mention how costly some items could be if left unchecked.

1. Do you have the Insurance Coverage needed?
Check with your agency that you are properly insured and current. If leaving the country and taking a vehicle with you, check with your agent, you may not be covered.

2. Give the home a good cleaning
It is most unpleasant to come home to a messy or smelly home after being away. It is also unpleasant to find unwanted guests making use of your home while you were away, so cleaning it will discourage pests.

  • Appliances – Clean, defrost and unplug the fridge and freezers. Wipe them dry and leave the doors propped open to prevent mildew.
  • If feeling energetic enough, clean the oven while you are at it.
  • Empty the food trap in your dishwasher and leave door open.
  • Unplug appliances you won’t be using while away – washer and dryer, microwaves and televisions.
  • Inspect your home. Make sure to seal any opening that animals could use to enter.
  • Is the fireplace flue closed? Install a chimney guard screen- cap.
  • Doors and Windows – Water and insects can enter through the smallest of openings

3. Don’t forget the outside

  • Trim the trees.
  • Remove dead branches to prevent damage to the home or injuries.
  • Clean the gutters and downspouts. Make sure water drains properly.
  • Repair any steps or handrails.
  • Winterize the faucets.
  • Make sure all equipment is stored properly.
  • Trim bushes and remove any debris near the home or other buildings.

4. Maintenance or Routine Items

  • Check smoke detectors, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries and test.
  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced by a licensed professional. Fill fuel tanks and make sure to set up periodic fuel deliveries, if needed. Have someone check and monitor the heat and fuel levels regularly.
  • Replace the furnace filter on forced hot air systems.
  • Have your chimney checked and serviced by a licensed contractor.
  • If you have an air conditioner, clean it and set it to prevent mold.
  • Inspect the roof and make appropriate repairs.
  • Shut off and drain outdoor faucets to prevent water damage due to freezing.
  • Install a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor on the main water supply pipe and monitor with an alarm system or your smart phone.
  • Make sure stove and oven are turned off.
  • Secure all outside lawn furniture and anything that could potentially cause damage in a wind storm.

5. Keep the House Warm

You may be out playing golf in the warm sunshine but your home is still in winter territory and needs to stay warm.

  • Do preventive maintenance on the furnace.
  • Keep the furnace on. Set the temp at 55°F or higher. This keeps the house warm and the pipes from freezing.
  • Turn off the heat source and water supply to the water heater.
  • Wrap any exposed pipes.

6. Don’t Announce You are Away

  • Forward or stop mail.
  • Let a neighbor and trusted friends know you are away and when to expect you to return. Along with how to contact you.
  • Stop any deliveries and have a neighbor check for items left at the door.
  • Be prepared to hire someone, if necessary, to shovel snow.
  • Keep up yard maintenance if needed, to give that lived-in look.
  • Add motion-sensor lights.
  • Set the interior lights on a timer or install a smart system you can monitor and control with an app.
  • Is the alarm in good working order and set
  • Test all locks and deadbolts.
  • Store valuables offsite or in a secure location.
  • Do not announce your travel plans online.
  • Notify the police department that the property will be vacant and provide emergency notification numbers.

7. Prevent Water Damage
Water damage is one of the most expensive repairs to a home.

  1. Winterize your pipes.
  2. Drain faucets.
  3. Turn off water, either the entire house, or non-essential sections, such as, washing machine, etc.
  4. Turn off the hot water heater or put on “vacation.”
  5. Close the lids on toilet bowls and possibly cover sinks to prevent leaking sewer gas into the home.
  6. Shut off outside faucets and unhook hoses.

Check out this SNOWBIRD CHECKLIST and download and print.