Leaving a house empty during the winter doesn’t come without the risk. You will have to make sure that it stays in the same condition as you left it. Harsh weather can make many damages to your belongings and to your property. It goes without saying that storage services will be the best solution to keep your items safe and sound during the cold days. But what about your home? You can’t place your house in the storage unit for safekeeping. What you can do is to follow these winter tips for empty properties and take simple measures to protect it.
Protecting your valuables is one of the first winter tips for empty properties
If you are planning to leave your home untended during the winter months, you should really consider moving your most prized positions in a safe storage unit. No matter how good you winter-proof your home, this is always the safest solution.
Check with some reliable local movers – they usually provide additional storage services. Even if they don’t, they will know what are the best storage facilities in the area. Their recommendation will be very valuable, so it is advisable to listen to it. Still, know what you are looking for.
The safest way to protect your things while you’re away is to opt up for the climate-controlled unit. That way, your things will have the best protection during the cold months. This is one of the first and very best winter tips for empty properties.
Inspect the outside
While you are deciding when is the best time to rent a storage unit, inspect your home. Start with the outside and see if there is a need for any repairs. If there are any, make sure to repair them before leaving premises for winter. Also, general maintenance regimes have to be up to date. Inspect every inch of the outside of your home.
Start yours maintains by clearing the gutters full of autumn leaves, moss, and other debris. If you leave it like this, it can result in weeping joints and overflowing or sagging gutters, causing water damage and damp issues.
Next, go high. Check your roof to ensure that the roof covering is intact. Keep in mind that slipped or damaged tiles that could become dislodged in bad weather.
Pay particular attention to mortar beds and joints to the ridge tiles. Any deterioration and dislocation here might allow rainwater into the roof space.
Most important of the winter tips for empty properties – Protect your pipes
The biggest risk of leaving a home empty during harsh weather is water damage. Over time, even the smallest leak can cause great damage to entire interiors or even cause structural damage to the building.
It is not uncommon for pipes to freeze and burst in winter due to cold temperatures. Keeping the house warm enough to avoid frozen pipes in the first place is the most important job.
Luckily, these winter tips for empty properties regarding pipe protection comes with some easy steps you can take:
- Step 1 – Service your boiler annually, so it can be safely left on over the winter. Also, check that all radiators are working properly.
- Step 2 – If you have that option, set the heating to come on daily for a few hours morning and night. It is good prevention against the freezing of the water in the pipes.
- The third step – Keep the thermostat on a low temperature of 12-14 degrees to get warm air circulating.
- Step 4 – Opening the loft hatch and cupboard doors under the sink will make warmer air to flow into these areas and protect the pipes.
- Step 5 – Adequately lag any exposed, vulnerable paperwork. Think about the installation of frost protection systems considered.
Familiarize yourself with the exact location of the stopcock for your mains water supply to the property. Just for the case, there is of emergencies, you need to know where the main valve is.
Check periodically to see can it be operated easily. Share its location with a trusted neighbor, local friend or property agent – someone who can access it quickly in the case of an emergency.
Drain the central heating and water system
While the previous winter tips for empty properties section is the best way to protect your pipe system, it isn’t the cheapest one. You will have to pay utility bills for the running water and heat you don’t use. If it seems like throwing money, an alternative is to drain down the plumbing and heating system.
On the other hand, this isn’t a bulletproof solution since some water may remain trapped in parts of the system. Still, any potential damage should be limited.
How to do it:
- Turn off external pipes securely
- Disconnect hose pipes
- Cover taps with an insulated cap or box
- Make sure that outside taps aren’t dripping
Shutting down the heating system for the winter will save you a lot of money on utilities. However, know the cold building might be more susceptible to condensation. The condensation can lead to mold and mildew deposits, or even cause damp issues in the longer term.
Improve your home security
While moving over the summer holiday has its benefits, you must have a good reason for deciding to leave your home empty during the winter.
Unfortunately, an empty property tends to stick out, especially at night time. After the sunset, it becomes a magnet for thieves who are more likely to take advantage of breaking into a house or flat that is obviously empty.
First of all, ensure that all windows and external doors are securely locked. A security alarm is always a great option to turn off intruders. Still, there are other measures you could take to give the impression that someone is home.
If you do nothing else, fit simple timer switches for lights or radios in several rooms. While it seems like a rip-off of the popular Home Alone movies, it might work. It is better than just locking your doors and hoping for the best.
Surely, the best protection from unwanted visitors is an investment in the smart home security system. The one that will allow you to view, monitor and control various home operations from a smartphone app. Some more sophisticated systems even come with a moisture sensor that detects water leaks or floods in the home, so you’ll be killing two flies with one strike.