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3 Ways to Winterize Your House that Most People Miss

Winterizing is important for all homeowners in cold climates, but it’s especially crucial for anyone who will be leaving their property vacant during winter months. In fact, winterizing can mean the difference between returning to a home in one piece and discovering a disaster.

Most people are quick to turn off the water supply and clean out the fridge before they go. You may even know to get your roof and chimney inspected. But we bet there are a few things you forget to do. It’s OK – it happens to everyone. Here are three often-overlooked ways to winterize your home.

1. Get Rid of Dead Tree Limbs

Dead tree limbs can snap off in a storm and cause all manner of trouble while you’re gone. They could crash through a window if the tree is close enough to the house, or fall on a car parked in the driveway. A tree at the edge of your property line might shed a branch and do damage to the windshield of a car parked on the street. A falling branch could also damage gutters and siding.

Rogue branches are a potentially big problem, but it’s easy to forget about tending to your yard when you’re packing. After all, you’re consumed with details like de-thawing your freezers and replacing the windows. Before you go away for the winter, get your trees and large bushes trimmed by a professional.

2. Fill Your Toilet with Antifreeze

Turning off the main water supply to your home is a good start to protecting your plumbing: if the water says on, dangerous freezing could lead to a pipe explosion. You may even go so far as to have a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes. But wait, there’s more!

Most people don’t realize the water that remains in the tank and bowl could still cause a problem. Any water left in the toilet can freeze and unfreeze, ultimately creating cracks in the porcelain. Pour non-toxic antifreeze (note: make sure it’s rated for plumbing) into the toilet before you go away.

3. Test and Upgrade Your Smoke Detectors

You’re so worried about the cold damaging your home that you may forget to ward off heat. Would your neighbors notice a fire in time to save your property? It’s impossible to know. Test your smoke detectors before you vacate the property. Smart smoke detectors will operate on wi-fi and send you a remote alert if they go off. You’ll be notified on your smartphone or tablet if the smoke detector goes off, and you can ask a neighbor to check on the house, or, in a more serious situation, call local authorities.

Heading south for the winter feels good, but returning home to find a broken toilet–or worse–won’t. Whether you’re gone for months or just a few weeks, don’t miss these winterizing techniques before you go. When in doubt, hire someone to check on your property a few times while you’re gone to make sure problems are dealt with in a timely fashion (and give you some peace of mind).

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