How to Winterize a Vacant House

By Jane Smith

  • Overview

    Winter can do a great deal of damage to a vacant home unless preparations have been made. Frost damage can crack walls and weaken windows. Cold can freeze pipes, causing flooding that can rapidly destroy ceilings and floor coverings. Torn screens and holes in walls and baseboards can give entry to insects, mice, birds and other vermin. Broken windows, unmowed lawns and unopened mail tell potential vandals and burglars that everything is free for the taking.
    How to Winterize a Vacant House
    • Step 1

      Stop all mail, newspaper and magazine delivery to the address and have all mail forwarded to the winter address.
    • Step 2

      Vacuum all carpets, mop the floors and wipe down the bathroom walls and shower stall. Clean the toilet bowl and sink, including wiping under the sink cabinet and around the baseboards. Make sure everything is completely dry. Sprinkle all carpets with baking soda and place moth balls throughout the home to prevent insect infestation. Clean any wood stoves and fireplaces and seal all flues. Close the dampers on all fireplaces. Make sure the chimney stack is screened and covered.
    • Step 3

      Clean the refrigerator and freezer.
    • Step 4

      Turn off the water and drain all your lines. Drain the toilet tank, toilet bowl and the hot-water tank. Open all the spigots in the house. Attach an air compressor to an air hose coupling. Attach the air hose coupling to an adapter on a garden hose, attached to an outside spigot. Use the compressor to pressurize the water lines, blowing any remaining water out. Close the closest spigot to the hose first, then the next closest, and then close the farthest one from the compressor last. Drain air pressure and disconnect the air hose.
    • Step 5

      Add plumber's antifreeze to the toilet tank, toilet bowl and all your drains. Have your local gas and electric companies shut off the power and the gas. Disconnect any propane tanks and cap all gas lines.
    • Step 6

      Make sure all food is removed from the house, including canned or dried food. Throw away all trash and garbage outside in a can with a tight-fitting lid. Arrange with your trash hauler for trash pickup.
    • Step 7

      Store all linens and clothing in sealed totes with desiccant packets and cedar blocks. Place desiccant packets between mattresses and box springs and cover in plastic. Place dust covers over all furniture.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Plumber's antifreeze
    • Mothballs
    • Air compressor
    • Garden hose
    • Mail forwarding order

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