Protecting Your Home Away From Home

Protecting your vacation home is protecting your investment, and your special getaway. When many people think about protecting their vacation homes, they’re mainly concerned about security. While securing your home away from home is important, there are plenty of other things that can harm your property while you’re away. When you’re not there to monitor and maintain your home, the weather can take over and wreak havoc. No matter what seasons you spend away from your vacation home, there are special concerns you should pay attention to. 

Where Does Most Damage Occur?

Unfortunately, most vacation home damage occurs in the places we’re least likely to look at. Namely, storage spaces, crawl spaces, attics, and basements. All of these areas aren’t often in use, and they’re most vulnerable to damage from heat, humidity, and other factors related to climate. 

In both your basement and attic, moisture build up can cause major problems. This is especially true when there’s not proper ventilation. Moisture build up can cause mold, which can lead to wood rot over time. When it goes unchecked, rotting wood can ultimately lead to structural damage that spreads throughout your home. 

Whether you leave your home for summer or winter, these areas are the most vulnerable in your home. Proper protection, and monitoring can help you reduce the chance of serious and costly damage to your property.

Bursting pipes should be a major priority when protecting your vacation home
Burst pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your vacation home

Protecting Your Vacation Home for Winter

While damage can occur in any season, winter weather brings its own set of concerns. If your vacation home is in an area that receives a lot of cold, wet weather in winter, you need to take special care to avoid damage when you think about protecting your vacation home. 

One of the first things you can do is ensure your home is properly insulated and sealed. Making sure there aren’t small areas where moisture can get in will help you prevent damage. However, in winter, mold and mildew aren’t as big of a concern as other areas. In fact, frozen pipes should be your top concern when you leave your vacation home or cabin for the winter. 

Plumbing problems aren’t cheap even when they’re smaller. When your pipes freeze, you also run the risk of them bursting. A burst pipe is costly, and can damage other areas in your plumbing and throughout your house. With the damaged pipes, plumbing, and water damage, it’s an incident that can ultimately cost you several thousands of dollars. Protecting your vacation home from bursting pipes should be a top priority.

Typically, pipes are most likely to freeze when they near temperatures around 20 degrees fahrenheit, although it can happen anytime temperatures reach water’s freezing point, at 32 degrees. One measure many homeowners turn to is keeping their thermostat set to at least 55 degrees. However, that isn’t a failsafe measure.  

Monitoring the heat in your home, and near your pipes, can help you avoid burst pipes. With a monitoring system, you’ll get the alert as soon as your pipes near temperatures that could lead to freezing or bursting. 

Visible frost on pipes, showing a major need to protect your vacation home from frozen pipes
Visible frost is a major sign of freezing pipes

How to prevent frozen pipes

While you should monitor your home to prevent damage, there are other measures you can take to reduce the risk of freezing pipes. As we mentioned, you should keep your thermostat set to at least 55 degrees before you leave for the season. What else can you do? Try these top tips to prevent frozen pipes:

Drain pipes and appliances

The pipes in your home need water to freeze and burst. Unless there are appliances you’ll need up and running when you’re away, drain the pipes and any water supply before you leave. You can even call your local utility company to have them disconnect your water service until you return. After the water is off, make sure you check all appliances and faucets to ensure there isn’t any water left sitting in them. 

Don’t neglect anything connecting to outside water lines. It doesn’t take much to cause a lot of damage, and outside lines will be much colder than those inside. Make sure you fully shut off any valves, which will ensure you’re not letting any water flow through. 

Insulate your pipes

You might not think of it as the most convenient preventative measure, but insulating your pipes can help keep them from freezing. Unfortunately, many pipes are located within your walls. While you can insulate exposed pipes yourself, you may need a hand from professionals to insulate the other pipes. There are several materials you can use, although fiberglass insulation and foam spray insulation are the most common. Both are readily available at most home supply stores. 

Let air circulate

Letting warmer air circulate can help prevent cold spots in your home. Even with your thermostat set at 55 degrees, there are areas where that heat might not easily reach. Remember, the colder it is outside, the harder your heater has to work to keep your home warm.

Try to keep all inside doors open to allow proper airflow. This includes doors you might not consider, such as closets and cupboards. These might seem like small things, but when doors are closed off in even small areas, the air inside cools down, which can ultimately cool nearby pipes as well. When you’re away from your vacation home for a long period of time, these closed off areas are continually cooling, rather than maintaining the heat the rest of the home has. 

Update insulation within your home

If you have a newer vacation home, your insulation isn’t as likely to be a large concern for you. However, many older homes lack the insulation that more recent builds do, which can cause problems. Not only does it mean that your home is less energy efficient (and you’ll pay more running the heat to keep it warm), but it also means that certain areas are more susceptible to drafts and cold spots. If this sounds like your vacation home, you have a couple of options. You can either update the insulation in your home, or keep your thermostat set at a higher temperature. Depending on the level of insulation you have, you might even need to raise your thermostat up to 68 degrees.