How to winterize your vacant property



By Caroline Kirby

Leaves are falling, and the temperature is dropping, and before you know it, the first day of winter will be here. Whether you have a vacation home, open land, or a vacant property you’re not sure what to do with just yet, don’t let “winterize your property” slip too far down the list.

Taking a few proactive measures in the next few weeks can help save you money on potential repairs and make your property more attractive to possible buyers.

Why winterize and what does it mean?

Unless you live in a tropical climate, then you are likely familiar with the special challenges and often unanticipated issues that come with colder weather and the winter season. Think of winterizing as “winter-proofing” your property so that it can stand up to the effects of the winter weather.

Some common troubles that may occur if your property hasn’t been properly winterized includes:

• Pest infestations
• Frozen pipes
• Increased chance of crime/theft
• Squatters

Each of these risks may vary depending on your property type and location. However, the following tips may still be useful no matter what your land is used for come wintertime.

How to winterize your property

Let’s start on the outside first – if you have a vacant lot or big area of land on your property, you’ll want to make sure you take the proper steps to keep the outside just as protected as any cabin or home.

• Don’t prune trees or shrubs before winter, as they may not have adequate time to heal before the cold arrives.
• If your area typically gets early snow, then go ahead and cover small trees or shrubs to protect them from heavy snow. You can also wrap young fruit trees to prevent winter injury.
• Check gutters for trapped water, ice, and any other blockages.
• Turn off water so that your hose or irrigation system won’t get damaged by any frost (an expensive surprise to fix once spring rolls around).
• Empty out and turn any outside storage containers upside down so that they won’t crack with fallen temperatures.
• Drain the fuel tank on your lawnmower or any other power equipment.
The Farmer’s Almanac recommends oiling your outside tools with vegetable oil to prevent rusting.

There’s plenty to do to get your property in shape for winter, but the steps above are a great place to get started. If you have a home or cabin that will be empty most of the winter, there are some other special steps you’ll want to take to ensure they are well-maintained through the cold.

One of the best places to start is to get in touch with your property insurer to see if they have any specific cold-weather requirements to keep your property safe. After you’ve done that, here are some other steps to take:

• Inspect for openings that critters could use to enter. If you have a fireplace, make sure the flue is closed.
• Avoid leaving a “for sale” sign outside the property as this could attract criminals or squatters.
• Turn off utilities like gas and electricity.
• Open faucets and drain all water lines to prevent pipes from bursting.
• Install a security system, motion sensor lights, or even a doorbell camera so that you can check in on your property no matter where you are.

Thinking ahead and acting now can save you from a hefty bill and a big headache later on. A little extra work in the next few weeks can help ensure that your property won’t be a problem for you come 2022. Want to sell your land before winter arrives? Learn more from LandHub.

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