When that first frost is in the air, it’s time to pack up the car and head south. But will your home be ready? And what about when you head back north? Here are some home management tips for Florida snowbirds.
Two Homes, Similar Preparation Checklists
Much of what snowbirds must do before leaving one home for the other is similar but not identical. The climate is the major factor in ensuring whichever house you’re traveling to will be clean, pest-free, and undisturbed when you arrive.
For Both Homes
Make your home look like someone is there. Stop mail and newspaper delivery. Close drapes and blinds. Set up timers on lights in the home to make it look like someone is home.
Check locks and alarms. Ensure smoke detectors have fresh batteries. Consider installing remote monitoring systems for smoke alarms and leak detectors.
Leave a key with a trusted neighbor or family member, and ask them to check on your home once a week. Inform local police that you’ll be gone for an extended period, and give them the name and description of the person who is allowed to enter your home to check on it.
Do a thorough housecleaning, including the oven. Empty and clean the refrigerator and the freezer. Unplug them, and leave the doors open to discourage mold. Clean out the dishwasher filter and run a cleaning cycle in your dishwasher with vinegar or a dishwasher cleaning product.
Repair damaged seals around windows and doors, and inspect the perimeter of your home to seal any cracks or holes where insects or rodents could enter. Shut the chimney flue and make sure the chimney screen on the roof is intact. Hire a professional to trim tree branches that could break in heavy snow or hurricane-force winds and damage your home.
Turn off the water, and then run all the faucets and flush all the toilets to drain the pipes. Cover all the toilet bowls and sinks with a tight seal of plastic wrap to ensure the water in the trap doesn’t evaporate and allow sewer gas to enter your home. If this is too much for you, hire a plumber to take care of it.
More for Heading South
Leave the heat on and set it to between 55 and 60 degrees to keep your home warm enough to prevent freezing.
Hire someone to clear snow and ice to prevent injuries and keep your home looking lived-in. Ask them to clear heavy snow from roof edges before it can create an ice dam, causing leaks.
Before You Return Going North
Prepare for wind and water. South Florida home renovations might include installing new impact windows and doors and repairing or replacing the roof to minimize hurricane damage.
Set the AC at 80 and leave it on. Use dehumidifiers with hoses that channel water directly into drains.
Experienced snowbirds have their preparation routines all set, but if you’re new to the biannual migration, ask snowbird friends to share their checklists with you. Enjoy your warm southern winters and cooler summers up north!