Winterizing a Vacation Home
By Mark J. Donovan
Unlike winterizing your main home, winterizing a vacation
or summer home effectively means closing down the home for the winter. However,
winterizing a vacation home or summer home really only involves a few basic
tasks that can be completed in about a day by a homeowner.
Shut off the Water System and Drain the Pipes
Since most vacation or summer homes that are winterized
will not be heated, the most important task to perform is to turn off the water
system and drain the supply lines.
The water system can typically be turned off by simply
throwing the pump switch to the off position on the circuit panel. Some wells
also have a mechanism several feet down that can be turned off to enable any
water in the underground pipe to drain back into the well. If your well has this
mechanism, a tool should have been provided by the water pump installer that
allows you to do this. It is effectively a rod about 4 feet long with a T handle
at the top. Basically the rod is inserted into the well head and turns a valve
to drain the water from the underground supply line back into the well.
Most wells do not require this however, as the well supply
line is located several feet under ground. Thus it is safe from any frost
Next, water should be drained from the supply lines. First
turn the faucets on and leave them in the on position.
Since water will and should remain in the toilet and sink
traps, an anti-freeze solution must be added to them to prevent freezing and
pipe cracking. Also, the toilet tank should be drained of any water as well to
prevent the tank from cracking.
Turn off the Heating Supply
Turn the heating system to the off position. Turning down
the temperature setting on the thermostat is not good enough. The switch at the
furnace or the circuit panel should be turned to the off position to ensure the
furnace does not inadvertently go on during the winter months.
Remove all Food that could Spoil or Freeze
The refrigerator should be turned off, unplugged, and
emptied of all contents. Likewise, anything in the kitchen cabinets that could
freeze or spoil should be removed.
Unplug all Appliances
To prevent the possibility of damage due to thunderstorms
it is best to unplug all appliances in the vacation home.
Find a Pre-Screened Contractor in Your Area
Prevent Rodent Infestation
Various rodents will attempt to get into your vacation home
during the winter months. It is best to leave a few boxes of Decon around the
home to prevent them from taking up permanent residence.
Storing Boats and Removing Pipe Docks
All boats need to be removed from the water. Similar to the
home, all of the boats should be winterized as well.
Once the boats have been removed, the entire dock should be
removed from the water and stored high up on shore. The pipes should not be left
in the water, as they will be damaged by the ice. The damage frequently happens
in the spring when “Ice Out” is occurring and large blocks, similar to ice
bergs, shift and move along the shore line.
Rake Leaves and Debris Away from the Home
It is important to rake the yard, with particular attention
made to removing leaves and other debris from around the foundation. Left to sit
during the winter months, this material would otherwise become a collection area
for ice and water, and become a haven for small four legged friends.
Properly Store away all outside Lawn and Yard Furniture
Clean all outside lawn and yard furniture and store it
inside the home or shed or garage. Likewise winterize the lawnmower and properly
store it away for the season.
Finally lock up the home, enjoy the winter and think of
warm weather in the spring.