Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage Blog

Beach Home Winter Maintenance Tips


Posted: January 14, 2016 by Kathy Alexander


Even along the beautiful southeastern coastline of North Carolina, winter weather can cause trouble for unprepared beachfront homes. This goes double for owners of vacant summer homes, because no one is present to catch problems before they get out of hand. Applying these simple winterization tips for your beach home can prevent several preventable issues from arising.

Plumbing First

Temperatures in the teens lasting more than a day or two can cause water pipes – especially those exposed to the elements – to freeze or burst, leading to water damage from indoor flooding and the need to replace pipes and fixtures. To avoid this, it’s smart to invest in some insulated pipe wraps to help keep water above the freezing point – even when you’re in residence and have the thermostat set to a comfortable temperature.

If your home is closed for the season, it’s imperative to also protect fixtures containing standing water, such as toilets and their attached water tanks. Pouring a cup of anti-freeze into both the bowl and reservoir can help prevent a possibly devastating freeze.

Keeping the thermostat set at no lower than 55 degrees throughout the winter when you aren’t in residence is another way to protect your property from frozen pipes. The temperature inside the walls where water pipes are located will be colder than the living spaces. And remember to leave all interior doors open to maintain an even temperature throughout the house. A reasonable heating bill is a welcome alternative to expensive plumbing and home repair bills.

Schedule a Maintenance Check-Up

Have your heating system serviced by a qualified professional before the onset of winter, whether you’ll be there or not. This can not only prevent small issues from turning into bigger, costlier problems, it will go a long way toward extending the life of your heating/cooling system.

If you don’t already check and replace your heating system’s filters on a regular basis, make it a point to do so, especially before colder weather sets in. Clean filters help cut energy usage, as well as improving indoor air quality.

One simple way to keep warm air in and cold air out during the winter is by making sure door jambs and windows are properly caulked and have weather stripping. This will help reduce stress on your HVAC system while keeping heating bills somewhat lower.

Since you’re going to be heating your home for the winter, it’s important to test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You should also install fresh batteries in all detectors.

Winter Storms and High Tides

Extreme weather can place coastal homes at risk throughout the winter; they all have the potential to cause significant damage. It does seem odd to have to worry or prepare for a snow or ice storm here in southeastern North Carolina. However, in February 2014, many parts of the state, including the Wilmington area, suffered from the worst storm since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Basic home maintenance tasks, including clearing rain gutters, repairing roof leaks, and cutting away tree branches that could fall onto your house are good ways to help winterize and protect your home. In the event you're forced to leave your home, learning to cut off the main water sources can help prevent serious water damage while the house is unoccupied.

If leaving your home for the season, make sure to have your roof inspected. Missing or damaged shingles or warped flashing can result in serious leaks and interior damage during storms. A deck can also be very expensive to replace, so have yours inspected for cracks, exposed nails, and overall structural integrity.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

If your family makes the North Carolina coast your year-round home, it’s smart to prepare yourselves for winter as well as your home. If a winter storm causes a power outage, there are several precautions to take in order to stay as comfortable as possible. Here are a few suggestions:

·         Make sure to stock a sufficient number of functioning flashlights with several sets of fresh batteries for back-up and keep at least three days worth of food and water on hand for every person and your pets.

·         Keep a battery-powered radio on so you can keep up with weather updates and to be aware of any evacuation orders for your area.

·         Keep a cell phone charger in your car to ensure you don’t lose contact with family, friends or emergency personnel.

·         Make sure your car always has at least half a tank of gas in it in case of evacuation orders or if you have to reach a hospital or a stranded family member.

·         If the power is faint or intermittent, unplug all computers, televisions and smaller appliances, and only keep one light on due to a higher risk of power surges during this time. Turn refrigerator and freezer settings to the lowest temperature setting and avoid opening the doors unless necessary.

·         If you own a generator, be sure you keep a reasonable amount of fuel stored in a safe location and that you do not operate it inside your home.

While winters along the coast in southeastern North Carolina usually mean cool, sunny weather with little chance of snow, winter storms do occasionally happen. It makes sense to prepare your home and your family for any possible situation.

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