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The Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Second Home or Vacant Home

Hey there, homeowner!

As the days shorten and the thermostat dips, there’s more to think about than holiday planning and what cozy sweater to wear. If you’re the proud owner of a secondary or vacant home, there’s a crucial task you need to tackle: winterization. Winterizing your second home is a crucial part in preparing for winter.

Ignoring this can result in substantial damage that could cost thousands in repairs. But no worries! We’ve got the scoop on why it’s so important and a handy list of the top 10 things to do to ensure your property weathers the winter unscathed.

Why Winterize Your Second Home?

The main goal of winterizing is to safeguard your home from the ravages of winter weather, such as frozen pipes, which can burst and flood your home; ice dams, which can cause roof leaks; and other potential catastrophes due to plummeting temperatures, snow, and ice. Without a regular presence, these issues can escalate unnoticed and cause significant damage before they’re detected. Properly winterizing your home helps preserve your investment, ensuring it’s ready for use when warmer days return or if you’re planning to rent or sell.

Top 10 Steps For Winterizing Your Second Home

Thermostat Management:

Set your thermostat to at least 55°F (12°C). This helps keep the interior temperature stable and prevents pipes from freezing, even when the temperature outside takes a nosedive.  The last thing you want is to find a house full of water and mold when you return to your second home next spring.

Plumbing Care:

Drain water from pipes and plumbing systems. Turn off the main water supply, then open all faucets, and flush toilets to clear water from the lines. Don’t forget about draining the water heater and expansion tank.  Even though you have your thermostat set at 55 degrees, it is a great idea to turn off the water and drain your pipes.  Power outages happen.  And you do not want to find a big mess when you come back in the spring.

Insulation Is Key:

Insulate vulnerable pipes, especially those in unheated areas like crawl spaces, garages, and attics. Foam pipe insulation or heat tape can provide an extra layer of protection.

Seal the Deal:

Check for drafts around doors and windows. Seal any leaks with caulking or weatherstripping to keep the cold out and the heat in.

Gutter Talk:

Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent ice dams from forming. Clogged gutters can lead to water buildup, causing damage to your roof and walls.

Roof Inspection:

Inspect your roof for damaged or missing shingles and make necessary repairs. A well-maintained roof is your home’s first defense against winter storms.

Chimney and Fireplace Care:

If your property has a fireplace, get the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. Close the damper to prevent drafts and critters from entering.


Cold weather drives pests indoors. Block their entry by covering vents with wire mesh, covering or repairing holes and cracks, and placing mothballs or natural deterrents in key areas.

Power Down:

Unplug all non-essential appliances to protect them from power surges and reduce risks from electrical fires. Consider shutting off the breakers if the house will remain vacant or unoccupied all winter.

Home Security:

Ensure your home security system is active and alert local authorities and neighbors that the property will be vacant. An option like a smart security system allows you to monitor your property remotely.

Remember, each house has its unique needs, so consider a professional inspection to identify any not-so-obvious vulnerabilities. Winterizing is an investment in peace of mind. By taking these steps, you’ll avoid the springtime heartache of costly repairs, and your second home will remain your sanctuary for relaxation or revenue for years to come. Stay warm out there!

Contact Huff Insurance With Any Questions About Winterizing Your Second Home

If you have a secondary home or a vacant home, please feel free to give us a call.  One of our experienced team members will work with you to make sure that your insurance plan is properly protceting you.  Call us at 410-647-1111 today.

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