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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 concerns.

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 Pre-Screened Contractor

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 and Tools

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.







- Winterizing a Vacation Home -

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