How to Prepare Your Beach House for Winter
If you're staying in your beach house during the winter...
Test your heating system.
- Do a test run of your heating system by setting the thermostat to 80 degrees. Check that the furnace turns on and that warm air blows through the vents.
- It's a good idea to schedule any season routine maintenance at this time.
- Replace your air filter.
- Fuel up if you have a propane or oil tank system.
- Clean and clear heating vents for maximum air flow and efficiency.
- Make sure your carbon monoxide filter is working properly.
Winterize your air conditioning system.
- Clean the condensing unit of the AC system.
- Use a hose with the spray set to high pressure to rinse the dirt and debris off the blades and condensing coils.
- Consider covering the condensing unit with a breathable waterproof cover made specifically for this purpose to add longevity to the unit.
Inspect your chimney and fireplace.
- Check the chimney and make sure it is clear of debris or nests.
- Open and close the flue checking for proper functioning.
- Have your chimney professionally cleaned by a chimney sweep if you haven't had it done.
- Inspect the bricks and mortar joints of a brick chimney and have any openings repaired.
Protect your pipes.
- Insulate any exposed water or drain pipes in attics, crawlspaces and outside walls.
- Turn off water supply and drain water from any and all exterior faucets.
- Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
Insulate vulnerable areas.
- Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating blanket found at most hardware stores.
- Insulate exterior outlets and switch plates with foam insulation.
- If you don't use the fireplace often, cut a piece of fiberglass insulation and stuff it into the fireplace behind your glass doors to block the cold air coming down the chimney. (You'll obviously need to remove this when you make a fire.)
Check windows and doors.
- On a blustery day, close your windows and feel for leaks.
- Press rope caulk into any areas where air is leaking in.
- Check the weatherstripping on the doors. Install or replace where needed.
Gutter and roof check.
- Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean and clear of leaves. Wet leaves left in the gutter can add weight and volume to the gutters and increase the risk of damage.
- This is also a good time to do a quick check of the roof for damaged or missing shingles.
- Check flashings for leaks.
Winterize the sprinkler system.
- Turn off the water supply.
- Blow air through the sprinkler lines to purge water and prevent freezing, cracking or bursting.
Prepare your outdoor space.
- Cover your outdoor furniture.
- Give your deck a fresh coat of sealant if needed.
- Drain or use the gas in your lawn mover.
- Drain any water fountains or fixtures and turn off pumps.
If you're leaving your beach house vacant for the winter....
Make sure your home appears to be continually occupied.
- Forward your mail.
- Stop newspaper delivery.
- Arrange for someone to periodically check your home while you're away.
- Install exterior motion detector lights.
- Put interior lights on timers to come on during various times throughout the day.
Take preventative measures to protect your home from thieves.
- Check and activate the alarm system.
- Secure and lock all external doors and all windows.
- Store valuables in a safe or safety deposit box in an off-site location.
- Do not post your vacation or travel plans on social media sites.
Prepare and protect your plumbing, pipes and water supply.
- Completely turning off the water supply completely.
- Drain your pipes of all water by opening all faucets and flushing all toilets to empty the water from the tank and bowl.
- Consider having a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes to ensure they're completely drained.
- If you decide against draining the pipes, keep your thermostat at 55 degrees or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities, where the water piping is likely located above freezing temperatures.
Perform routine maintenance before you leave your home.
- Have your heating system inspected and serviced.
- If electrical service to the home is to remain on, consider having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your main electrical panel, wiring and outlets.
- Have your roof inspected and your gutters cleaned out.
- Remove dead trees or overhanging limbs that are close to your home as a preventative measure.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances.
Prevent against pests.
- Clean your home thoroughly.
- Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators and freezers.
- Clean the oven.
- Inspect your home for any openings where animals could get in. Make sure fireplace flue is closed.
- Check weather stripping and insulation of exterior doors and windows to make sure there are no gaps or openings.
- Have your chimney inspected and preferably cleaned and capped to prevent any issues.
Prepare for emergencies.
- Inform the local police department that your home will be vacant and provide them with emergency contact numbers if they need to contact you.
- Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Install storm shutters.
- Ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbor to periodically check on your home. Give them entry access in case of an emergency.
Did we miss anything? Let us know if you have any more tips for winterizing your beach home. We want to hear them! Our comment section is always open.