In August, 2012, The Weather Channel named Asheville one of “America’s Safest Weather Cities”, but don’t let that fool you about energy efficiency how to properly winterize your Asheville vacation home. Although Asheville is a city that is considered to have “four seasons”, people should still take precautions and understand the benefits of winterizing your home.

Should You Winterize Your Asheville Vacation Home?

There’s a few different reasons why you should winterize your Asheville vacation home and those reasons are:

  • If your Asheville vacation home sits vacant throughout the winter months, even if you live in it the remaining time during the year.
  • If your home is over 20 years of age, even if it’s lived in year-round.

Certainly, you should already be practicing good winterizing techniques in order to save money, and valuable resources later on, should your home suffer from broken pipes, or any other damage caused by not winterizing properly. When you winterize your Asheville vacation home, don’t forget to pay special attention to the details that we’ve outlined below. It can save you time and money. We here about horror cases all the time and people spend thousands of dollars fixing problems caused by leaky and/or busted pipes that they could have prevented simply by following a few steps before leaving their vacation home empty throughout the entire winter in Asheville, NC. So remember, it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive when you winterize your Asheville vacation home, regardless if you reside there, or it’s strictly a vacation rental.

Winterize Your Asheville Vacation Home in Five Simple Steps

Most people think that protecting the pipes is all that they have to do, in order to protect their precious home when it’s cold outside, and when pipes are more likely to burst. While this is certainly true, there are many other steps that need to be taken in order to ensure a safe and reliable home. The basic rules and problem areas for how to winterize your Asheville vacation home are:

Plumbing

Turn Off Plumbing System

  1. Turn Off Water Supplies:  It’s suggested that you actually execute these first steps (about water) in the order we’ve suggested. Failing to do so could result in water being caught in your pipes and lines, therefore ruining your efforts to prevent a pipe from bursting later on when the temperatures fall below freezing. Make sure to first turn off your water at the source, not simply at each faucet, or unit. (That’s in the next step.) If the furnace should fail on a very cold day, the water in a pipe could freeze and burst.
  2. Open Faucets: Next, open all your faucets and drain your waterlines; remember, this step comes after you’ve already turned off the main water supply from the well, or city. Once you complete this, you can blow your lines out with an air compressor.
  3. Flush Pipes: Flushing your pipes can increase the longevity of your pipes Pour an “RV-type” of drainage chemical to help flush your pipes. This process is not as complicated as it may sound, and it involves hooking a hose up to your water heater, and draining it first, before anything else. Check out this easy-to-understand guide on how to flush your home’s plumbing system to help winterize your home.
  4. Drain Water: Make sure to drain the water from your refrigerator(s), dishwasher(s), and/or washing machine(s). The small catch try in the back of the fridge can collect quite a lot of water, and tending to it is crucial because mildew and mold can build up there.
  5. Empty Water Filters: Some folks have entire water filtration systems that provide ultra-pure drinking water for their residence, or it’s simply required because the well water in that particular area is not drinkable. Either way, you’ll want to check with the manufacturers suggestions on how to properly clean and disengage your water filtration system in Asheville before you leave town.

Electricity

Unplug Units to Winterize Your Asheville Vacation Home

  1. Adjust Thermostat: Never turn your heating/cooling system completely off when you’re going to be wintering your home for long periods of time. This can be dangerous for your pipes, and to your precious furniture inside your vacation home. Adjust your thermostat to a reasonable temperature (around 50º F), or at least above freezing. You’ll still want the heat to radiate through the home, and sufficiently warm the pipes in your crawl space, so make sure that you don’t drop the temperature too low. Consider your artwork, and other household items as well. The National Gallery of Australia offers some insight on proper temperature and relative humidity for artwork.
  2. Unplug All Appliances: Appliances and electronics draw power in, even when you’re not necessarily using them.  A single mobile phone charger will consume one (1) watt while plugged into the wall, even without a phone plugged into it. That may not sound like a lot, but when you have other appliances and electronics plugged into your walls, we could safely assume that you’re pulling about 20 watts constantly! That’s a lot of power for simply “doing nothing”.
  3. Turn Off Gas: Unless your natural gas resource is supplying heat for your Asheville vacation home, make sure to completely shut off your gas line into your home. If there is a leak, and you’re not there to tend to it, your house can explode, literately.

Kitchen, Wet Bars, Outdoor Kitchens

Winterize Your Asheville Vacation Home's Kitchen

  1. Clean Fridge: Our suggestion is to completely empty out the entire contents of your fridge, but some people that we’ve spoken to, still keep some items inside. It all depends on what is inside your refrigerator, but again, we suggest to remove all items. Clean the fridge too, leave the fridge door open and place a bag of activated charcoal inside so that your home doesn’t stink when the guests arrive.
  2. Clean Freezer: The freezer is the most-likely place that old food and frozen items will rest until you get back in the Spring. Unfortunately, there are those individuals that think that because the items are frozen, that it’s a free ticket to allow them to hang out in your freezer all winter long. What is your electricity goes out during a winter storm and power is not restored until days or even weeks later? This can be disastrous and you may be too far away (Clean the freezer the same way as we suggested to clean your refrigerator.)
  3. Set Pest Traps: You might not think that you have a problem with ants, or crawling insects, but the second you leave your home unattended, they’re coming in to find a place to “winter-over”. In fact, Asheville, North Carolina has had a huge problem with the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug since about 2001. These particular bugs are looking for a warm place to hang out until the warmer weathers of Spring. Make sure to contact your local pest control agency to establish a good parameter around your Asheville vacation home before locking it up.
  4. Remove Items That Could Freeze: As we mentioned above, Asheville is a full-season geographical location, and it does freeze here. In fact, there’s already been snow in Asheville and it’s only October.  Make sure to remove all bottled liquids, such as mineral water, soda, beer and paint, because their containers may burst when their contents freeze. Empty water from jars, vases and even decorative indoor mini-fountains if you have them.

Miscellaneous

Empty Trash

  1. Empty Trash:  Have you ever ate in your tool shed, only to find out the next day that you’ve attracted thousands of ants, roaches and perhaps even mice? This realization happens to a lot of home owners when they understand just how clever pests really are around the home of their dreams. Do us a favor, don’t eat in areas that are not designated for food (AKA “the kitchen”) and take out your stinky, nasty garbage before leaving your vacation home unattended all winter long; you’ll be glad we reminded you.
  2. Wash Everything:  We’re not talking about your kitchen sink here; we’re talking about everything: your clothes, drapes, pillow cases, rugs and anything else you can wash. Bed bugs are real, and let me tell you, you don’t want an infestation of bed bugs simply because you didn’t take proper care of your linens. The occasional moth ball might even be OK :-)
  3. Remove Fire Hazards: Fire hazards can involve anything remotely close or capable of creating a spark in and around your home. Think about those long, slender grass decoration bundles that sit along the floor and end up being dust collectors for their entire lives. Is that thing sitting close to an outlet? Throw it away or move it. When it comes to your Asheville vacation dream home, don’t be stupid.
  4. Close Flues & Dampers: The statistics for how much energy is wasted through your brick chimney is almost enough to make you want to demolish yours. Really. Traditional stone or brick chimneys are extremely wasteful when it comes to letting heat just escape through a huge, gaping hole in your roof, AKA your chimney. If you’re serious about making money from your Asheville vacation home and you really want to winterize your Asheville vacation home, then you should consider

Outdoor Areas & Landscaping

Asheville Custom Home Builders

  1. Indoor Plants: While indoor plants are nice and they make your home more enjoyable while you’re there, the best option for indoor plants when you winterize your Asheville vacation home is to take them with you when you go. Seriously. Don’t leave your plants unattended indoors; there’s a variety of reasons for this and some may be more obvious than others. When your indoor plants dry out after not being watered for so long, (and believe me, they will dry out; it’s just a matter of time.) they pose a serious fire hazard from all of their super-dry leaves floating about your house. Another reason why it’s never a good idea to leave your plants at your vacation home while you’re gone is because you’ve now relied on your neighbor to take care of them while you’re away. Who wants to take care of another person’s plants for three months? That’s right, no one.
  2. Yard & Garden: Depending on the type of yard that you have, and the type of vacation home you own, this will determine if you need someone there to maintain the landscaping design for your Asheville vacation home or not.
  3. Outdoor Furniture: Lock your furniture up the same way that you see restaurants locking their patio furniture. Make sure to use a strong bicycle lock when locking up your patio and outdoor furniture before leaving town.  Here’s a great lock that we suggest to help winterize your Asheville vacation home.
  4. Vehicles, Pleasure Vehicles: During a break-in, these valuables are some of the easiest to nab, and there’s a good reason for it, because most people don’t take the proper security measures when they winterize their Asheville vacation home and cover their expensive cars or bring them into the garage. You could even rent a storage unit in Asheville and keep your car there temporarily.

Security Precautions

Secure Your Asheville Home

  1. Lock Your Home:  Make sure to check, double-check and triple-check the locks in and around your property. This doesn’t just mean your front door. We’re talking about the tool shed, pool building, storage unit, barns, back door, side door, and basement door. Don’t forget your windows, skylights, and any entry/exit location on your property. It’s a good idea to actually make a list of all your entrances and exits.
  2. Trick Your Robber: Do you remember when you’d go out of town, and your dad would turn on the television before you left, and you always wondered why? Well there’s some truth to that. Ol’ dad was on to something clever. Trick your would-be-burglars by installing a few timed lighting outlets. We like these timed outlets.
  3. Remove valuables: Perhaps you’re thinking that this is an obvious task when you winterize your Asheville vacation home, but again, this is a comprehensive list, so we’re helping you not forget anything. Don’t forget to look in those secret hiding spots where you’ve stashed your gold nugget 😉
  4. Forward / Stop Mail: If you live at your Asheville vacation home the rest of the year, then you’ve probably forwarded your post mail to that location before. Don’t forget to stop, hold, or forward your post mail to the correct location. A great resource for that is the USPS website for stopping mail.
  5. Regular Check-ins: Make sure that someone has the keys to your Asheville vacation home so that they can perform regular checkups and keep a close eye on the place. Take down their email address and or mobile phone number so that you can contact them in case of emergencies. Think about where you’ll be; will you be out of the country, will there be cell phone service there? Take some time to consider these before assuming that you’ll always be able to talk with your “check-in person”.

Thanks for reading. If you have any personal experiences and advice about how to winterize your Asheville vacation home, please share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it.