Most homeowners take pretty good care of the house they live in, but many have vacant houses in Georgia that get neglected.
A vacant house can fall into dis-repair very fast if left unattended. Even if you visit your vacant house every month, it still needs certain care, like your personal house, that will ensure it does not cost you extra money later. Here are four ways to prepare your vacant house for winter.
Trim the landscape
Keeping the yard around your house looking nice is a way to show pride in your home. It also is a way to prevent mold from growing. Moisture naturally ligers near shady surfaces like a shaded ground, under the canopy of trees, bushes and vines. Shade trees, shrubs around the house and thick piles of leaves can cause moisture to build up around your house and cause mold. Your vacant house is even more susceptible to this because there is less activity around the house to help circulate air and keep the moisture down.
Prepare your vacant house with a winter trimming of all trees hanging within ten feet of the house. Trim back bushes around the house to a foot or two. Also, rake up any thick piles of leaves that are within 2-3 feet of the wood surfaces of your house. This will make the house look nice. People will think it is being lived in, which may deter vandals, and the landscape will look great in the spring.
Give that vacant house in Georgia some power
If you are like me, you may have left your extension cord or garden hose in the yard and found it later, chewed by the dog. As an experiment, I plugged the extension cord back in (after fixing it) and left it in the yard again. After doing this two different times, I learned the dog would not touch it at all. Animals seems to feel the current in live wires and don’t bother them.
I say that to say this, a vacant house is a prime place for mice and squirrels to live. Rodents of all kinds will chew on anything to keep their teeth worn down. If at all possible, keep the power on your vacant house to keep your wiring from becoming a chew toy for the tree rats.
Also, another good deterrent for your vacant house wiring is “Moth balls”. Spread a box of moth balls in the attic and crawl space to help drive them out. The smell does not really get into the main house, but the rodents will not like it in the areas they hang out, so there is less chance of your wiring getting chewed.
Clear the air in your vacant Georgia house
The house you live in is always circulating air because of the HVAC system or just because people are always moving around in the house. A vacant house does not have that kind of circulation… It’s empty. Try to keep the central air unit on to circulate the air. Even at low temperatures, a vacant house needs air to move to prevent mold. A cheap way to circulate the air can be as simple as using a box fan and leave one or two windows open a few inches.
Don’t forget the plumbing
Preparing plumbing for the winter in a vacant house can be tricky. Water is a non-compressible fluid. If you are in an area that freezes, it will not be enough to just turn off the water. The water will still be in the plumbing lines and if it freezes, the pipes will burst. You must introduce air into the line to give frozen water somewhere to go.
City water can be difficult because the water comes straight in from an outside source. One way to protect your vacant house with city water is to cut off the water at the city cutoff first, then open any faucet that is low to the ground that will allow the water in the house plumbing to drain out (like the outside faucets). If no water comes out, flush the toilets. This will open the fill valve and allow air into the plumbing. Water should start draining out.
Next, make sure that any plumbing that is exposed to the air is wrapped with insulation. I live in Middle Georgia and even I had to take a hair dryer to my outside faucet last year because it got below freezing. Vacant houses in the northern states require even more care to protect the plumbing. If you live near your vacant house, stop by and run the water on days that it will be getting below freezing temperatures. I leave my bathtub faucet on a trickle during nights that forecast freezing temperatures.
If your vacant house is on a well, it is easier to winterize this house. A well has a tank that holds part water and part air in order to maintain pressure on the system and protect from pressure surges. In this system, simply shutoff the water pump and open a couple faucets until the water stops flowing. Again flush the toilet to open the fill valve. This will keep the open to changes in pressure and help give any frozen water a way to expand without breaking the plumbing.
Of course, if you are in the middle Georgia area and don’t want to keep up with an extra vacant house, contact us at Real Estate Problem Solver and we can make an offer to fix that problem.