Protecting vacant homes against winter damage


  • Get the home professionally winterized. (Remember, once the winterization is complete,leave notices at strategic places that the home is winterized and not to use the plumbing.)
  • Keep the heat up in the mid 60’s or better. It is cheap insurance! If the temperature is set low and the power or pilot light go out, the home can drop in temp very quickly resulting in burst pipes.
  • Even if the home is winterized, keep the temperature up. Frost can form on or inside of cold walls and closets, which could result in mold damage.
  • Inspect the home as frequently as possible—at least once or twice per week, and more often during prolonged periods of bitter cold.
  • Make an arrangement with a reliable neighbor to keep a key and a watchful eye for problems, and to contact you if a problem does occur.
  • Talk to your homeowner insurance agent regarding your insurer’s policy about coverage of vacant homes, which can vary from company to company. Because vacant homes are more prone to water damage and vandalism, some insurance companies will decline claims if the home has been empty for more than 2 weeks.
  • Remember that pipes can sometimes freeze without the water damage occurring until the weather warms and the pipes thaw.
  • When marketing a home in the winter season, arrangements should be made for keeping the driveway and sidewalk clear of snow and ice for the safety and convenience of buyers and their agents who visit your home. It’s also advisable to place a reasonably large rug just inside the door where visitors can remove wet shoes and boots without tracking through your home.