Attention all snowbirds! Before you leave your Connecticut home for the winter, make sure you take care of a few housekeeping items. Not sure if you are a snowbird? These are individuals (usually retired folk) who enjoy the wonders of spring, summer, and autumn up here in New England. But the second the snow starts to fly and temps drop below freezing, they head south to places like Florida.
While this idea appeals to many people once they retire, Florida is spectacular around December, January, and February, a few things that need to be straightened out with regards to Connecticut homeowners insurance since, well, you’re not going to be ‘living’ in your home up here in Connecticut for a few weeks (or months).
Following a few simple steps can ensure your New England abode stays safe while you are enjoying the sunshine and warmer temps.
Tips for Winterizing Your Connecticut Home While Your Away
Now the fine print of most New England homeowners policies won’t usually cover a home loss if the home is vacant for longer than two months. It’s essential to understand what the insurance company considers vacant. On a homeowner’s policy, vacancy usually refers to a literally vacant home- empty- meaning the house doesn’t have a kitchen table, glasses, a couch, chairs, etc.
Since you’re still living in that house, just not for a few months come wintertime, you shouldn’t fall victim to any liability loopholes. But if you aren’t sure, give us a call we will be happy to review your current homeowner’s policy with you. After a thorough review of your homeowner’s coverage, follow these other home winterizing tips.
- Don’t leave your home looking unoccupied. Ask a friend or relative to do periodic checks on your home to pick up mail or newspapers. Or contact your local USPS to put your mail on hold. If you don’t have them already, install motion detector lights outside and put your interior lights on a timer. Also, ask someone to be on snow patrol for you while you are away.
- Take the time for theft prevention. Don’t blast your plans for leaving town on social media. Ensure all your doors are shutting and locking properly. Double-check alarm systems, and consider storing valuables offsite.
- Turn off the water supply to protect pipes. If a pipe bursts or leaks while you are away, it could cause significant damage. Consult with your heating professional to determine if it is safe to turn off the water supply for your particular heating system for homes heated by an older steam heating system. Make sure that you do not turn off the water to any fire sprinkler systems. After you have turned off the supply, drain all pipes and consider adding an antifreeze. If you aren’t sure, contact a professional plumber.
- Keep your home warm if you aren’t draining water supply sources. Set the temperature at 55°F or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities, where the water piping is likely located above freezing temperatures. Keeping room and cabinet doors open can also help heat to circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
- Finish all regular maintenance items before you leave. Have your heating system inspected and serviced by a licensed professional before the onset of cold weather. Have your fuel tanks filled before you leave and make sure you have set up periodic fuel deliveries if needed. Have someone check on heat and fuel levels regularly while you are gone. If electrical power is required to keep the heating system running and service to the home is staying on while you are away, consider having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your main electrical panel, wiring, and outlets. Make repairs or replace anything that may be defective.
You can read about other ways to keep your home safe during the winter here.
The Bottom Line
Taking a few extra precautions before you head south, can help ensure your New England home stays safe. The same goes for your house down south when you’re back up here during the warmer months, so rest assured you should be all right. If there is ONE thing that we could recommend, it’s this- have a warning system in place at both homes. Look for one that would detect not only break-ins but also events like the flooding of the first floor or basement caused by a pump issue or something of that nature.