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Tips for Winterizing Your Beach House

Tips for Winterizing Your Beach House

alt="An oceanfront beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina covered in snow during winter"
Photo: A historic oceanfront cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina. Image courtesy of Fine Art America.

 

Whether your seaside sanctuary is a second home primarily used for summer vacations—so you plan to batten down the hatches and secure it for the season—or your coastal cottage is your family’s primary residence and you will be riding out the winter there, owning a home in a seaside community means taking the time to start winterizing your beach house properly. Failing to perform the proper preventative measures before snow, ice and freezing temperatures arrive could cause your home to incur major damage over the cold winter months—the effects of which can be both time-consuming and costly to repair or replace. When you’re preparing to winterize your beach house this season, make sure the following items are on your to-do list.

PROTECT YOUR PLUMBING SYSTEM

alt="Water is shooting out of several places in a broken pipe"
Photo: George Herald

When it comes to winterizing your beach house, few tasks are more important to take care of than properly protecting your plumbing from the potential devastation that can be caused by freezing temperatures. Because the vast majority of beach houses were originally built as vacation homes that would primarily be occupied during the warm spring and summer months, many homeowners find that their property’s plumbing lacks the appropriate amount of insulation to protect the pipes from becoming frozen and ultimately bursting open. If you’re a year-round resident and will be residing at your property during the winter, perform a thorough examination of the insulation surrounding the interior and exterior pipes throughout your beach house—including those in attics, utility rooms and crawl spaces—to check for missing, damaged or insufficient insulation that could put the pipes at a higher risk of freezing up when cold weather strikes.  

alt="A man wraps insulation around a pipe to prevent it from freezing as part of the winterizing process"
Photo: Pinterest

If you don’t plan on spending any time at your beach house yourself this winter—and you also don’t intend to make the property available for potential vacationers to rent out for a week or two—winterizing your beach house is a relatively quick and easy process. While you should always make a habit of routinely examining your home’s pipes each winter to ensure that anything exposed to the elements is adequately covered by insulation, the only surefire way to protect your pipes from bursting when the temperature dips below freezing is to prevent any water from traveling through them in the first place. Before you vacate your home for the season, simply switch off the property’s main water supply, then open all interior and exterior faucets—including showers and bathtub faucets—to completely drain any remaining water out of the pipes.

alt="A home's kitchen and living room are filled with several feet of water from flooding"
Photo: Specialty Restoration of Texas

Neglecting to properly prepare your plumbing system when winterizing your beach house for the cold months to come could result in catastrophic damage if water inside a pipe freezes to the point of expansion—causing the pipe to burst and potentially costing you thousands of dollars in water damage (not to mention an extremely high water bill), particularly if the leak goes undetected for an extended period of time.

ADD INSULATION TO WINDOWS, DOORS & OTHER SUSCEPTIBLE AREAS

alt="Looking out of a beach house window covered in snow on the Outer Banks of North Carolina"
Photo: Stephanie Banfield

Regardless of whether you are staying at your residence throughout the winter months this year or you’re closing it up and heading out of town until spring, checking to make sure windows, doors and other susceptible spots are properly insulated is a key component of winterizing your beach house. When doors and windows lack proper insulation, drafts of cold air are permitted to penetrate your property through small gaps or leaks along their edges—and the warm air inside your house is allowed to escape, causing costly energy bills that can easily be avoided by taking a few preventative measures.

alt="A person adds gray insulation to the interior edges of a window while winterizing their residence"
Photo: Amazon

 

Although many homeowners assume the insulation found around their doors and windows is sufficient as is, it’s imperative to examine the condition of your home’s insulation and weatherstripping every season to ensure it isn’t damaged. Keep in mind that older homes that have not been maintained properly—as well as homes that are used as vacation rental properties and therefore experience more use and higher rates of wear and tear—are much more likely to sustain damage to doors and windows than gently used primary residences. No matter which type of property you own, the first step to winterizing your beach house is a thorough examination of all at-risk areas, which range from windows and doors to attics and chimneys.

CLEAN AND INSPECT YOUR CHIMNEY

alt="Flames shoot out of the roof and windows as fire rips through a beach house in Nags Head, North Carolina"
Photo: The Coastland Times

One item that is often overlooked by homeowners who are in the process of winterizing their beach house is cleaning and inspecting their chimney—a task that is extremely important to undertake at least once each year, particularly if a proper examination wasn’t performed before it was first used in the fall. According to the National Fire Protection Association, failure to clean chimneys is a leading cause of home heating house fires. From leaves, twigs and pine cones to bird nests and tree branches, a wide array of debris can easily make its way inside your chimney and begin to obstruct the airflow. In addition to these types of blockages, the buildup of flammable material caused by incomplete combustion can also create dangerous conditions and fire hazards that need to be taken care of before the chimney can be used to keep your family warm during cold weather.

alt="A stylish fireplace is the focal point of a beautifully decorated living room in this beach house"
Photo: The Spruce

Although it’s possible to perform a quick look inside your chimney yourself to check for debris, deterioration and damage, experts say a chimney check shouldn’t be considered a do-it-yourself job. In order to ensure your chimney is cleaned correctly and that the system is in good working order, contact a professional to handle this winterization task for you. Hiring an experienced professional will not only prevent you from overlooking damage or debris that could result in a catastrophe once the chimney is used to heat your home; it will also provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing this important beach house winterization chore was performed correctly.

EXAMINE YOUR ROOF AND GUTTERS

alt="A man wearing a glove pulls a wad of mud and wet leaves out of a clogged gutter"
Photo: All American Gutter Protection

When it comes to the massive amount of water damage that can occur along the roof if you don’t know how to winterize your beach house properly, prevention is a key component of protecting your property. Check the entire length of your gutters to ensure they are clean and free of any leaves, branches or other types of debris, which can create potentially dangerous clogs. If debris—particularly wet leaves—is left unchecked and permitted to build up inside your gutters, it can add a considerable amount of weight and cause them to leak, crack or even tear loose from the roof.

alt="The ceiling of this home is destroyed due to water damage after an ice dam caused flooding to occur from the roof"
Photo: The Ice Dam Company

Likewise, when water is prevented from draining properly due to clogs in your gutters, it can lead to the formation of ice dams when temperatures drop below freezing. Once an ice dam has formed, it can have devastating effects on a residence—ranging from broken gutters and missing shingles to destroyed roofing and major flooding inside the attic or top-level living space—if the problem isn’t remedied immediately because the water trapped behind an ice dam can flow under the shingles on your roof and leak into the house, potentially damaging the ceilings, walls, floors and insulation. Water damage can be catastrophic and costly, so if you own a home along the coast, your best bet is to prevent it from occurring in the first place by properly winterizing your beach house this season.

alt="The flashing on a roof around the chimney is shown before and after repairs were completed"
Photo: Wilcox Roofing

In addition to checking for clogs inside your downspouts and gutters, be sure to inspect the rest of the roof for any damaged or missing shingles, which can lead to leaks in those locations during rain showers or snowstorms. While you’re winterizing your beach house by performing your roof check, don’t forget to examine the flashing—the thin, weatherproof pieces of metal that are installed around windows, doors, gutters, chimneys and other exterior joints—to ensure it is functioning correctly and diverting runoff away from vulnerable areas of the roof.

SECURE YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE

alt="When winterizing your beach house, deck chairs like these on the Outer Banks of North Carolina should be stored inside"
Photo: Stephanie Banfield

Once you’ve wrapped up the to-do list of tasks inside your home, the last step you need to take when winterizing your beach house is to secure the items in your outdoor space. Bring patio and deck furniture indoors to prevent it from being damaged during inclement weather and to avoid it being blown about in high winds. If you are unable to move outdoor furniture inside your home, a garage or shed, be sure to secure it sufficiently in a safe spot so that it doesn’t come loose and get lost—or cause damage to other parts of your property during winter snowstorms or nor’easters.

TIP: WINTERIZING YOUR BEACH HOUSE WITH THE HELP OF A FRIEND OR NEIGHBOR

alt="An oceanfront beach house sits just beyond snow covered rocks and sand dunes during the sunset"
Photo: Flickr

If you own a beach house but won’t be riding out the winter at the property, consider finding a friend, a neighbor or someone located nearby who can periodically check on your home upon request to check for damage and report any necessary repairs back to you. You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is ready and willing to keep a watchful eye on your home away from home this winter until you can finally return to your slice of paradise in the springtime.

Maintenance Must-Dos for Homeowners to Complete this Fall: Part 1

Photo: freehdw.com

It’s that time of year again. The leaves have begun their transformation from green to golden yellow, orange and red, and a tinge of crispness can be felt in the cool air. Fall has officially arrived, and with it comes a checklist of household chores that everyone homeowner should complete before the cold winter days looming on the distant horizon catch up to them. Follow these maintenance must-dos for homeowners within the next few weeks, and you’ll be able to kick back and relax with a cup of hot apple cider knowing your property is in top-notch shape for the seasons to come.

Stock up on Supplies

Photo: Reader’s Digest

Whether you anxiously await on the onset of winter weather or you absolutely dread the cold that’s sure to come, stocking up on seasonal supplies is one of the simplest and most effective ways to gear up for the snow, ice and possible power outages that often accompany the season. No one wants to think about snow shovels and ice melt when it’s still warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors without having to put on a parka; however, when it comes to stocking up on winter supplies, the old adage “better safe than sorry” definitely applies.

Photo: Larson LawnScape

Rather than wait until the first flakes of snow—or, worse, a surge of sleet—begins to fall and then rushing to the store in inclement weather to grab supplies, shop for winter necessities well before you will actually need them. The specific items you’ll need to purchase depend on what geographic region you reside in and what types of climate you typically experience, but you can’t go wrong with bags of pet-safe ice melt, shovels and ice scrapers. 

Photo: DIY Network

If your home is in an area that receives significant snowfalls throughout the winter months, be sure to have your snowblower serviced so you aren’t surprised with a faulty piece of equipment that refuses to work the first time you try to start it for the season. Don’t forget to fill your portable gas container with fuel and store it in a safe spot so you can easily access it when it’s time to clear your driveway and sidewalks of that chilly powder that falls from the sky.  

Photo: Consumer Reports

You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes with realizing your walkway is quickly filling up with snow and knowing you’ve got a sufficient shovel and several bags of ice melt safely stocked in your garage or basement—stock up this fall and save yourself the trouble of grabbing gear when everyone else in town is rushing to get it!

Trim Trees to Prevent Property Damage

Photo: Post and Courier

 You don’t have to live along a hurricane-prone part of the coastline to know that strong winds can topple even the tallest of trees and toss them around like matchsticks. Dozens of people are killed in their home or their home each year when a strong storm rolls through, bringing with it enough rain to over-saturate a tree’s roots—or winds so intense they rip a tree from its foundation and send it hurtling into a home. But did you ever stop to think about how the trees in your very own yard can pose a threat to your property and your family in the dead of winter?

Photo: Riverhead News & Review

Winter storms can result in high winds that whip through neighborhoods and cause even the sturdiest of trees to break loose from the ground, potentially falling onto residences and harming those inside. Likewise, ice storms can coat the limbs of trees with layers of thick, heavy sheets of ice that cause them to snap loose from trees and fall on anything that stands below.

Photo: Alyse Lansing Garden Design

To ensure your family and your home are safe this winter—and to prevent damage from fallen trees from potentially injuring your loved ones or resulting in having to file a claim with your insurance company—use this time to take inventory of the trees on your property and to determine if any are in danger of being damaged this season. Be on the lookout for dead branches or diseased trees, which are most likely to fall victim to sheets of ice or strong winds first. Trim the damaged portions off the tree to avoid branches or limbs wreaking havoc on your residence when a winter storm hits. Trees that are leaning toward your property or that have grown just a little too close to your home for comfort should also be trimmed back, removed or relocated if possible to protect your home and its occupants this holiday season.    

Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Monitors

Photo: WCCO CBS Local

Nothing is more important than the safety of your family and your pets, regardless of what season it may be. Although smoke detectors in your home should be checked to ensure they are in working order once every single month, batteries are generally replaced only twice a year—and fall is the perfect time to do it.

When winter weather arrives, you’ll be trading air conditioning for central heat and ceiling fans for portable, plug-in heating devices, which can present a fire hazard when not used properly or monitored carefully. Most heated blankets manufactured within the past few years feature an automated shutoff mechanism that prevents them from overheating and potentially catching fire; however, many older products don’t turn off after being in use for a set amount of time, putting our property—and your family—at serious risk.      

Photo: Clarksville Online

Because so many products and devices are used during the winter months to heat your home and personal space, it’s imperative to replace the batteries and check your smoke detectors in the fall to ensure they are in working order and can alert you to a fire if necessary. But fire isn’t the only threat homeowners face during the winter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20,000 people are exposed to carbon monoxide each year and end up in the emergency room. In addition, 4,000 individuals will require hospitalization for their illness, and more than 400 people die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning—many of them while sleeping in their own homes, unaware that they have been exposed to the deadly gas that can be generated by something so seemingly harmless as a furnace.

This odorless, colorless and tasteless gas is extremely difficult to detect, and while the initial systems are similar to those that come with a common cold or flu—such as headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness—coming into contact with carbon monoxide can ultimately result in carbon monoxide poisoning or even death. Don’t let your family risk a dangerous encounter carbon monoxide this season. Purchase a few carbon monoxide detectors for various rooms in your home online or at your local hardware store, and rest assured knowing your loved ones are safe from this difficult-to-detect substance that has been coined the “the silent killer.”

**Check Coastal Cottage Company’s blog next week for more helpful and important tips for preparing your property for the upcoming winter season!

 

 

 

 

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