Prepare Your Winter Vacation Home for the Summer Months Ahead

Maintenance Items prevent getting the “dreaded phone call” while you’re back home in the north country.

You’ve purchased your long anticipated vacation home in Sunny Arizona.  The winter has been glorious, but now it’s time to start thinking of heading home. While it’s nice to have a “home check service” come to your home on a regular basis to identify problems, there are several precautions you can take that will reduce the need for these services while preserving the elements of your home like cabinetry and furniture.

Prepping your home for the summer isn’t quite the same as winterizing your north country home, but there are some easy basics that can prevent the risk of loss and preserve your property values.

1.  Water Shut-off Valve:  Pipes under pressure have a nasty habit of relieving themselves inside your walls, behind your refrigerator or at your washing machine hook-up.   When you’re away for any length of time, it’s important to have all water service in your home shut off (except for residential fire sprinklers installed on homes built after 1992…these will be on a separate valve).  If you don’t have a water shut-off valve near your service panel locations  (or near the main building water service, if you’re in a condo building) call your friendly plumber to install one.  In addition, if you have one already, we recommend a levered ball valve instead of a rotary gate valve…they tend to last much longer and are more user friendly.  The old gate valves have a nasty habit of coming apart just at the moment of crisis, when you need it most.  Cost of this service is approximately $200 but one of the best investments you’ll make, both for risk reduction and your own peace of mind.

2.  Seal off all drains:  We recommend closing all drains (including the one at your washer/dryer location) and sealing all toilets with plastic.  This keeps traps moist and reduces sewer gas odors in the home.   A plastic bucket over shower drains will also prevent evaporation.

3.  Add humidity to the inside of your home:  Arizona summers are hot and dry, and hard on quality furnishings and cabinetry.  Use buckets filled with water to keep a nice level of humidity in your home.  Have someone check and refill them  at least once per month.  They’ll evaporate quicker than you think!

4.  Keep your interior temperature approximately 88 degrees.  Again, Arizona-hot-and-dry equals damaged furniture, doors, and household items.  Even clothing and fabrics left in your home will suffer with extreme temperature.  Be sure to also change your air filters before leaving.  We recommend a heavy duty filter instead of an inexpensive 30-day filter…and try to have someone change it at least once over the summer time.  

5.  Wrap outdoor pipes!  Yes, this is sunny Arizona, but it can get cold in the desert!  There will be nights during the fall and winter that temperatures dip into the low 30’s and even 20’s…and pipes will freeze!  First, refer to item #1 and turn off the water inside your home, but your water service main and outdoor hose bibs can also freeze.  The hardware store will stock foam pipe-wrapping material that is easy to install and will give you peace of mind next season when you’re up north and temperatures dip into the danger zone!

6.  Change batteries on smoke detectors at least once per year!  They will begin to chirp at some point, and chirping smoke detectors can be a nuisance to neighbors, especially in condominium settings.  While you’re at it, check to see if your thermostats require batteries!

7.  Reduce lawn weeds with Pre-Emergent herbicide.  If your home includes a yard that is your responsibility to maintain, February and March is a great time to treat the area with a Pre-Emergent.  Your landscape guru will provide the service for a fraction of the cost of having to eliminate the weeds at a later date.

8.  Check roofs for needed maintenance.  While Arizona offers up some charming spring rains, it’s the summertime monsoon storms that can really cause damage.  Call your local roofer to have your pitched and flat roof checked out…you’ll need to add a preventative surface coating to your flat roof every 2-3 years.

9.  Service your A/C:  We recommend an annual service that checks freon, fan operation and other vital components.  Generally, A/C companies will offer great specials during April and May at a cost of approximately $50 per unit.  A well-maintained unit can last decades.  What’s that saying about “an ounce of prevention?”

If you’re in the Fountain Hills service area and need recommendations about  good technicians, call us at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate, 480-816-5557.

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