Karma's Checklist to

Winterize your home:

--Clean gutters and downspouts

--Trim dead branches from trees, and trim back shrubbery that is coming in contact with any part of the house.

--Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses.

--Drain outdoor spigots by shutting off the water inside the house, then turn the tap on. When the water stops flowing, turn the tap off and restore the main water supply. Finally, put an insulated cover over the tap to insure no one uses it until spring.

--Insulate your hot water tank with a special insulating blanket, available at any hardware store.

--If you don’t use the fireplace often, make sure the flue is closed.

--Insulate electrical outlets on exterior walls with a foam gasket.

--Air leaks around windows and doors can be cured inexpensively with rope caulk and weatherstripping.

--Cover outdoor air conditioning units.

And your vacant property:

A vacant property needs all of the items above, plus a few more:

--Keep a list of all the steps you are taking. You will need to remember to “undo” these things when the home is ready to be occupied.

--Close the fireplace flue, and block openings such as the dryer duct vent to prevent wildlife from coming in.

--Consider scheduling a plowing service to automatically clear the drive and walkways when it snows.

--Turn off the water at the main supply valve. Turn on all the taps to clear water from the pipes. Pour an “RV” type antifreeze into drains to prevent water in the traps from freezing.

--Turn down the thermostat just high enough to keep the temperature above freezing.

You can ensure that your vacant property will be protected from leaks and frozen pipes by calling a licensed plumber to help you with this process. Leaks that go undetected for an extended time can cost you thousands of dollars later.