The Carroll Group | Andover Real Estate, North Andover Real Estate, North Reading Real Estate

Do you have a summer home? Here are some tips for preparing it for being vacant all winter.  And many of these tips apply to a winter retreat that you don't visit during the warmer months!


  • If you have any broken stairs or handrails, get them fixed before the season starts. It’s much easier for people to get seriously hurt if they can’t grab a handrail as they fall.
  • Seal any holes in outside walls and caulk or cover spigots and outdoor water pipes to protect them from bursting in cold temperatures. Sealing holes will also keep out any unwanted birds or animals who are seeking refuge during the winter.
  • Check skylights to be sure they are properly sealed to make sure the no rain, snow or ice gets inside your home.  In addition to causing damage to the structure and furnishings, any moisture left untreated can lead to mold growth.
  • Clean gutters! Make sure you've gotten rid of leaves and other debris so you don’t get a buildup of ice and snow.  Ice dam can cause serious damage. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent more debris from entering and building up.
  • Bring in any decorations or furniture that you keep outside. It can be damaged by the weather or animals, or be taken by a thief.
  • Throw away any broken items and donate to charity anything you didn't use over the season.


  • Warm temperatures are key to preventing water damage.  Talk to and HVAC person regarding the optimal temperature for your home while you’re away.  You can usually set the thermostat lower in a well-insulated, newer home than in an older, less insulated home.
  • Install an emergency pressure release valve in the plumbing system. 
  • Leaving appliances and electronics plugged in is a waste of electricity, so unplug them. Prop the refrigerator door open so you won't come back to a modly, smelly mess.
  • If you don't plan to spend any time in the home during the winter, you may want to consider "winterizing" it. Turn off any nonessential utilities to save yourself money and avoid any chances of water leaks. If you’re in a cold climate, drain your water lines to prevent your pipes from freezing. Drain the water heater. Close the water lines to toilets, the washing machine, sinks and the dishwasher.
  • Put fresh batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the thermostat, the security system and other vital home devices.
  • Connect your thermostat and one exterior door lock to a home automation system. Set the system to automatically send you a text if the temperature inside your home falls below a certain point. You'll know you need to call a furnace repair company and you'll also be able to unlock the door for the service person without having to be there
  • Close window treatments and storm shutters. Don't forget to activate your alarm system!

     If you're property is in a homeowner's association, be sure the association has your correct contact information, so it can reach you in an emergency.
  • Toss Trash And Take Home Perishables.  Disposing of trash will help keep rodents and other pests away. Same thing with any perishable food. You don’t want to come back to your home after a few months to find something growing in your fridge or pantry.  In many vacation areas, food banks or religious organizations hold change-over day collection drives where you can drop off your unused food on your way out of town.
  • Inventory Home Supplies.  Make a list of anything you need to replace before the start of the next season, like pots and pans or bed linens. You can shop for those at your leisure and bring the items with you when you reopen the house.

It shouldn't really take you very long to do these things, and you'll be thankful for the time well spent since you won't have to worry about your vacation home during the off season!