People visit Florida every year to relax on the gorgeous beaches and enjoy the sunshine. Those are likely some of the top reasons you invested in a vacation house, but what happens when you’re not there between October and March? Protect your vacation home during the warm weather off-season by using these tips before your last visit for the year.
1. Install Remote Monitoring Cameras
Smart security cameras are easy to monitor from a distance. Install a few outside your property, and set up standing cameras on countertops, tables or dressers. You can check in on your vacation home whenever you’re not around with an instant view into any room.
Some security systems even have live monitoring by professionals. When they get a motion alert after you’ve armed the system, the company’s team will call emergency responders in case you don’t get the notification right away. When you’re ready to spend time in your vacation home again, you can shut off the indoor cameras to regain privacy.
2. Inspect Your Plumbing
Water is always a concern when a home goes unattended for months. Before leaving for the off-season, inspect the plumbing underneath your sinks for leaks. You might also spot one in your water bill. If the monthly usage is above the average 12,000 gallons per month, you’ll know you have a major leak somewhere in your home.
Turning off your main water valve is another good step to protect your home, unless you have a fire sprinkler system. If you do, only turn off the valves to your bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room. The piping won’t burst in the case of freezing weather and cause water damage that goes unnoticed until spring.
Remember to close your drains as well. If bugs find their way into your plumbing through a sealant crack, they won’t be able to crawl up your drain and into your home. Add your sink, shower and tub drains to your to-do list to protect your vacation home.
3. Check Your Locks
Door locks are a home’s first defense against intruders. Double-check your locks and handles to ensure they don’t wiggle. The tiny screws keeping them in place can loosen over time — tightening them with a Phillips-head screwdriver only takes a second and makes your home’s security more robust.
You could also update your locks if they’re older. Rust and loose internal parts might make it easier to break under force. A different model — like a Mortise lock set — would embed a door’s lock in a deep-set metal casing within the frame that won’t shatter like a wooden borehole. You could even get a smart lock to check your home’s security while states away. It depends on your budget and how much time you have before leaving for the season.
4. Banish Any Mold Spores
Mold sneaks into homes all the time. It can settle into fibers and grow in damp areas people overlook. Give your home a deep cleaning to prevent mold from taking over while you’re gone.
You could run a dehumidifier for a day or two before you leave to stop any current growth. Place it near wet areas like your kitchen or bathrooms. After it runs for at least 24 hours, vacuum your carpets and wash your rugs. You’ll rest easy knowing your vacation house will stay clean while you’re handling things in your hometown.
5. Consider Automatic Lighting
Imagine driving through your neighborhood while returning to your home at night. You automatically know which neighbors are home based on the lit windows along your street. People with criminal intentions do the same thing to scout for future robberies. If they notice the lights off consistently in a house over a period of days, they’re more likely to consider breaking in.
Update your indoor light fixtures with smart bulbs or Wi-Fi-enabled replacements. Automatic lighting will turn off and on according to your preset schedule. People passing your property will think you’re home, which could prevent a break-in.
Smart lighting is also helpful when you return to your vacation house. You could schedule your bedside lamp to turn on an hour before going to bed so it charges your electronics via a USB cord. Make your kitchen lights fade on slowly as you wake up or turn your flood lights off automatically when you usually go to sleep. You might even schedule things like outdoor Edison bulbs so life is easier when you’re having fun hosting backyard barbecues.
6. Unplug Major Appliances
Check the electrical outlets around your home. Do they have two or three prongs? Three-prong outlets mean your house is grounded, so it directs lightning into the ground if it gets hit. Those without three-prong outlets absorb potential lightning strikes, frying anything plugged in during the storm.
Taking the extra step to unplug your biggest appliances protects them from that damage. You could unplug your washing machine, dryer, stove and refrigerator before leaving. Use the opportunity to clean them too, like emptying your fridge and wiping it down so it’s ready to use when you return.
7. Replace Smoke Alarm Batteries
You don’t have to wait until your smoke alarms are beeping to change their batteries. Swapping them before going back to your hometown could prevent a fire from going undetected if the older batteries run out while you’re gone. Your house will also be safer when you return, preventing your loved ones from becoming one of the 2,200 people who die annually from house fires.
8. Hire a Friend or Family Member
If you have a few friends or family members around your vacation house, ask if they’ll stop by and check on your property. They can report back every few weeks on any landscaping damage from storms or if the lights are on during your predetermined schedules.
It’s imperative to check your property after hurricanes or flooding. You’ll take care of damage quickly to prevent even more costly destruction caused by roof holes or broken windows. Your loved ones might also appreciate making a few extra dollars for the simple task if they live close to your vacation home.
Secure Your House More Effectively
There’s more you can do to protect your Florida vacation home besides locking your windows, closing your blinds and stopping mail deliveries. Implement these strategies this year to make your property safer. Simple fixes and upgrades could be all you need to prevent theft or property damage.