Two snowbirds enjoying the sunshine on a beach

How do I care for my home while I am gone for the winter? Tips for Minnesota Snowbirds

Heading South for the winter? If you’re one of the fortunate retirees who has smartly chosen to sit out the grueling Bold North winter in a more temperate climate, you’ll want to make sure your home here in Minnesota is thoroughly prepared for your absence and cared for while you’re away. Here are some expert tips on prepping and safeguarding your temporarily vacant home that will give you the peace of mind you deserve while enjoying that warm lush life.

Protect Your Pipes to Avoid Water Damage by Turning Off Your Water Supply

  • A burst pipe could cause significant damage. Consider completely turning off your water supply if you will be away for an extended period of time. If your home is heated by steam heat, consult with an HVAC specialist to determine if it is safe to turn off your water supply for your particular heating system. Also, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, make sure that you do not turn off the water to this system.
  • If you do turn off your water supply, drain your pipes of all water by opening the faucets, and flush your toilet to clear the water from the tank and bowl. Many snowbirds pour antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing, but if you opt for this, make sure to use non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems.
  • You may wish to hire a licensed plumber to complete these steps. The plumber can also confirm that the pipes have been fully drained by blowing compressed air through the pipes.

Take Steps to Protect Your Home from Thieves

  • Make sure your alarm systems are working and activated.
  • Secure doors and windows with deadbolts, and install slide locks on sliding glass doors.
  • Store valuables in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
  • Avoid posting your vacation or travel plans on social media sites, as potential thieves can use that information to learn when your house will be vacant.

Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm

  • If you decide not to turn off your water, keep your furnace running to ensure your home stays warm and your pipes don’t freeze.
  • Set the temperature at 55°F to 60°F to help keep the interior above freezing temperatures. Leaving cabinet doors open can also help heat circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
  • Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers to avoid any leaks or broken hoses while you are away.
  • Turn off hot water heaters (if separate from your boiler).
  • Consider shutting off and draining outdoor faucets to prevent water damage due to freezing.

Prevent Your Home From Appearing Unoccupied

  • Forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery.
  • Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms.
  • Put motion-sensitive exterior lights and interior lights on timers and set them to come on at varying times to discourage prowlers.
  • Consider using an experienced snowbird property management firm Tradewind Properties who will make sure that issues like mail and package delivery, plowing and shoveling and lighting are managed so that your home looks occupied and active while you’re gone.