Season isn’t over YET in Naples, Florida or surrounding areas; in fact, many of our winter visitors are staying longer and longer each year.
However, for those who are going to be heading back up north soon and just recently purchased a winter or vacation home in Southwest Florida, there are things you must do in order to properly prepare your home for the summer while you are away.
Here is a handy checklist of areas that should be covered before your final departure:
- In case of summer storms or inclement weather, be sure to take photos or video of both the inside and outside of your home and take important insurance documents with you when you leave. These two actions will help with any storm related claims should they arise. Also take pictures and/or video of the contents inside your home as well.
- Who will you entrust with caring for your home in case an issue arises while you are away? A family member, a neighbor, a friend, or a company that specializes in this service? You’ll want to designate an individual or company to assist just in case.
- Whomever you choose, be sure to get expectations in writing. Choosing a company that specializes in monitoring and servicing homes is always a good option and will ensure that responsibilities and liabilities are clearly defined.
- While away, your home should be checked at least once a week. An air conditioner that quits at the height of summer could be a bad situation! An unattended leak, whether from your own home or the vacant unit above, could also cause significant damage!
- Make a list of contact information (names. phone numbers, etc.) of everyone who has keys to your home. This list should include: homeowner associations, property managers, friends, family, neighbors, and service personnel. This is also a good time to review the list for any individuals who no longer need access to the home and consider updating your home’s access security, such as changing locks and codes.
- Also, make a list of all the companies and/or vendors that service your home. These companies include alarm/security companies (don’t forget the code and password!), air conditioning, cleaning service, electrician, plumber, pool and lawn maintenance, pest control and irrigation. Also include your handyman, window cleaner, and pressure washing company. Then, attach copies of contracts you have with these companies to your list. Now, duplicate the package. Leave one copy here at your home and take one with you. The package you leave behind is for those looking after your home. Should a problem arise, they’ll have the information needed to help resolve the situation. Take a copy with you because you’ll want the contact information at your fingertips, if needed.
- Lastly, document all the settings of your home, including air conditioning and humidistat, light timers, sprinkler systems, etc. If your home loses power for an extended period, timers will need to be reset. Don’t forget to have timers adjusted with the changing sunrise and sunset times.
Here are a few more some important items to address…
- Change all batteries and purchase backups where applicable: smoke detectors, thermostat/humidistat, alarm (main and key pads). The availability of additional batteries for the person/company monitoring your home ensures minimal downtime.
- Inspect all plumbing fixtures and address potential issues before you depart. It’s easier to prevent a problem than it is to repair one when you’re 1,500 miles away. A professional home watch company will know what to look for and should offer to perform the inspection.
- Ensure the security of your home by checking all windows and doors for defects. Are the locking mechanisms in good order? Are the alarm-monitored entry points working properly? Are you using locking pins on the sliding glass doors?
- Electrical issues: Power surges, especially from lightning strikes, are a common occurrence in Southwest Florida. The surge can enter your home through phone, electrical, cable, or data lines and destroy electronics. You can either unplug everything or contact an electrician about installing a full-home surge protector. Florida Power and Light (FPL) offers their SurgeSheild program, which is a meter-located protector that, according to FPL, “protects your home’s major motor-driven appliances.”
- Whether you chose to leave your refrigerator operating or not, always remove perishables and turn off the ice maker. If shutting down the appliance, be sure to clean the unit and prop the doors open to prevent mold from forming.
- The control of your home’s temperature and humidity is a must. Keep in mind that a dark, cool, stagnate, and moist environment is prime breeding ground for mold. If your home is not equipped with a humidistat, consider installing one and set it between 45 and 55 percent. Your thermostat can be set between 80 and 84. Do not prevent all natural light from entering your home. Allow about 25 percent to filter through your window treatments. When it comes to overhead fans, turn them off.
- Never turn off water to the water heater when power is off! Just prior to walking out the door on departure day, turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker.
- Give your home a good cleaning. This will help to minimize pests, as well as make it easier to open your home upon your return
- Outside the home, be sure to secure all lanai and pool furniture. Store items in a garage or a lanai with hurricane shutters. You’ll then need to decide whether or not to install your hurricane shutters on remaining openings. If you don’t do them now, you’ll need someone who will do so in the event of a pending storm.
Your final steps should be to discontinue mail, newspaper and other deliveries. Share your departure date with neighbors and friends – they’ll help monitor your home. On the day you leave, don’t forget to take important documents, such as new prescriptions and home insurance information. Turn off the water at the main valve. Turn off all unnecessary lights—leave one or two connected to timers. Set the alarm. Lock the door.
This check list should not only protect your home, but provide peace of mind while you’re away! If you have any questions, just contact a John R. Wood Agent who can assist you in finding resources or making recommendations! And, of course, if you want to sell your home, do contact us as well!
See you next season!