Having a vacation property means having a place where you can go to get away from it all each year. Whether your vacation property is on the beach or in the mountains, one thing tends to remain the same; around this time each year, you need to start getting it ready to close up for the winter months.
Leaving your property vacant for an extended period of time can lead to some serious issues that you’ll need to deal with if you don’t close it properly. Use these 10 tips to help ensure your property remains in great condition.
Clean Your Gutters
A lot of people tend to not think about their gutters unless a problem occurs. But what if that problem occurs while you’re far away? Gutters that aren’t draining properly can cause water to back up onto your roof and lead to the formation of ice dams, both of which can cause leaks and water damage. Cleaning your gutters before you go can help prevent these issues from occurring.
The average cost of cleaning your gutters is around $100 to $140 for a normal amount of debris. However, if you are comfortable getting on a ladder you can clean them yourself at no cost.
Drain Your Pipes
There’s nothing worse than coming back to your vacation home in the spring only to find that a pipe has burst and flooded your property. This can be easily avoided by draining the water out of your pipes at the end of the season. Find your home’s main water valve, turn it off, then open up all your faucets to drain the water out.
This simple task costs nothing to do. However, if you are unsure where your main valve is, or if you’ve drained everything, you can hire a plumber to do this for you at a rate of around $45 to $65 an hour.
Drain Your Water Heater
While your water heater is unlikely to freeze solid in the winter months, it’s still a good idea to drain it if you’ll be leaving for an extended amount of time. Water that sits in the bottom of the tank can lead to sediment and erosion of the tank itself, which can lead to the need of a replacement sooner. Drain your tank by shutting off the valve and opening the spigot at the bottom to flush it out.
This task also costs nothing, but if you are having your plumber in to take care of other tasks, ask them to flush this tank at the same time.
Vacation properties are notorious for harboring things like sand and moisture after a summer of fun. Unfortunately, that moisture can lead to things like mold and mildew growth if not cleaned up at the end of the year.
At the same time, any dropped food crumbs may lead to rodent infestation while you’re away. A thorough cleaning eliminates these issues and makes sure the property is ready and waiting for you when you return.
The average cost of having your property cleaned is around $75 to $125 for an average sized home. However, if you want to save, you can also tackle this chore yourself for free, or discuss getting a group rate with neighbors for having several properties cleaned at once.
Many people have the house itself cleaned each year, but may overlook other necessary tasks like cleaning the furniture. Your furniture and upholstery can take a beating each summer, becoming home to trapped moisture and food stains which can lead to problems over the long winter months.
Having your upholstery professionally cleaned can help eliminate any costly problems and prolong the life of your furniture.
The average cost to clean one piece of furniture is between $50 and $80. You can save by asking about bulk discounts for multiple pieces, however, as well as talking to neighbors about going in on a group service to have multiple pieces cleaned at once for a lower per-piece price.
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Install a Security System
If you don’t live near enough to check on your vacation property on a regular basis, you could find that your property is the target of break in’s over the winter months when the home is vacant.
Even if you don’t keep valuables in the home, squatters and thieves can still do serious damage if they aren’t dealt with. Having a security system installed can help to both deter thieves and give you peace of mind.
The average cost of having a security system installed is around $1500 to $2200 plus a $500 per year monitoring fee. To save, you can also install security lights, which turn on when motion is detected, or install simple window or door alarms that make noise without the monitoring system.
Open Your Windows
Believe it or not, you may want to crack open one or two windows in your home if you’ll be leaving it vacant for a few months. If there is a difference in temperature between the indoors and the outdoors, condensation could begin to build up inside.
This condensation can lead to water damage, mold and mildew, all of which you’ll have to deal with on your return. By opening a few windows in difficult to reach areas, you can help avoid this issue.
There is technically no cost to opening your windows, but you may want to purchase some window alarms that will go off if someone tries to open them further to gain entry.
Check and Repair Your Roof
Minor roof problems have a way of growing into larger ones if left unchecked. That’s why it’s important to inspect your roof before you leave your property each year.
Look for things like cracked or broken shingles, missing shingles, or shingles that are curling at the edges – all of these are signs that your roof needs repair. Take care of any issues now to prevent leaks and water damage while you’re away.
The average cost of roof repair is around $630 for a 10 x 10 area. To save money, however, you can install new shingles yourself, or if you’re unsure if there is a problem or not, you can tack a tarp over the area to keep water out until you can afford to have it fixed in the spring.
Disconnect Propane Tanks
If your vacation property uses propane for heat or hot water, you need to make sure you disconnect the tanks before you leave for an extended amount of time. Not only will this help prevent squatters from camping out in your home, it can also help prevent dangerous gasses from escaping while no one is there.
This is a free service that most propane delivery companies will perform for you if you call them early enough to schedule.
Close Dampers and Vents
Make sure you seal up any dampers or vents in your home to prevent things like bird or rodent infestation and nests. Vacant properties can often become the home of small animals looking for shelter from the winter months. Close your fireplace dampers, dryer vents, and other ducts to ensure nothing moves in while you’re away.
This is a free and simple task to do that can help you save on exterminator fees when you return.
Care for Your Property
You want your vacation property to continue to be a haven year after year, so be sure to close it up properly each and every time. To find out more about what things cost, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.