As the warm weather comes to an end, many homeowners begin the process of closing up their summer homes, It’s important to winterize your property properly to help ensure it’s in great shape upon your return.

We’ve compiled a list of some essential things you can do to help protect your house through the cold winter months.

1. Inspect Your Property  – A few weeks prior to winterizing, begin evaluating the condition of the property. Items to inspect include your roof, chimney, eaves, foundation, trees that are leaning over your property, and any sheds or other out buildings. Create a checklist based of what you find and decide what things should be fixed now or when you reopen your home in the spring.

2. Clean the Gutters – Often overlooked, cleaning your gutters is one of the most important seasonal maintenance tasks.  Clean gutters allow rain and melting snow to run freely away from the base of the house.

3. Power Down  Electricity should be shut off at the main, leaving only circuits that control necessities such as the alarm system. In addition, unplug all appliances to prevent possible damage caused by lightning. While gas should also be turned off at the main, the safer option would be to have the service temporarily suspended.

4. Turn Off the Water – Turn off the water at the main supply point to prevent freezing pipes. Even if you keep your home heated during the winter, this is important in case your furnace fails or the power goes out. All the water pipes need to be drained. Turn off the main water supply and working your way from the top of the house to the bottom, open all the faucets and leave them open. Remember to also drain any outdoor spigots as well.

5. Thoroughly Clean  clean out all the closets, cabinets and refrigerator.  All the bedding should be removed and stored away to prevent any burrowing animals. Remove all garbage.

6. Kitchen  Food can attract unwanted animals so it is crucial to thoroughly clean the kitchen.  Empty the refrigerator and wipe down with disinfectant wipes.  Store all non-perishable food in air tight containers or bring them back to your primary residence.  Leave cupboards, refrigerator and freezer doors open.

7. Low Temp Alarm – If you heat your home during the winter, consider purchasing a temperature-monitoring system. Many systems are equipped to send alerts by phone, email or text when the home’s temperature drops below a level you set.

8. Outdoor Furniture and Toys – Move any outdoor items such as patio furniture, kayaks, bicycles and any other outdoor toys to a locked garage or storage shed to prevent theft or weather damage.

9. Lock It Up – It can be easy to overlook an unlocked window or side door.  Double check all doors and windows are fully closed and secured.

10. Contact Information –Notify the police department that the property will be vacant, and provide contact information in case of an emergency.