Owning a vacation home gives you a sanctuary during the summers, away from the rat race and everyday life. Or, if you are renting it out, a vacation home can provide an excellent secondary income.
However, vacation homes are also a lot of work! A vacation home is an entire second residence that requires regular maintenance year-round if you want to enjoy it at its best during the summer.
You don’t need to keep it all in your head. In this article, we provide a ‘caring for your vacation house checklist’ that outlines all of the steps you need to take according to the season.
Maintaining a Vacation Home Through The Seasons
The type of maintenance your vacation home requires will depend a lot on where it is located. For example, a house in Southern California is not going to face the kind of seasonal temperature variations (and snowfall!) that a house in Maine will. As a rule, the more intense the changes in temperature and weather are, the more maintenance will be required.
That means if you live in a tropical or subtropical climate, you might not need to follow all of the steps outlined below. This caring for your vacation home checklist applies to a vacation home in a climate that experiences all four seasons. Keep in mind that some of the requirements in your caring for your vacation house checklist might be different depending on where you are located and the different risks there – floods, fires, heatwaves, etc.
During the summer everyone is active and enjoying the vacation home! It’s a busy time, and since the property is being heavily used, this is when it goes through the most wear and tear. You can maximize the joy and minimize the damage by regularly cleaning and maintaining the house, tending to the landscaping, and ensuring that everything is safe. Your summer ‘caring for your vacation house checklist’ is about enjoying your vacation to the fullest.
1. Do a thorough deep clean at the beginning of the summer, and disinfect everything. Do a carpet cleaning if necessary.
2. Wash bedsheets, linens, and tablecloths on a regular schedule throughout the summer.
3. Check the AC to make sure it is working optimally. If it smells bad, leaks, or isn’t working at 100%, contact an air conditioning service to repair it.
4. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they have batteries and are working.
5. Make sure the refrigerator and freezer are working properly and staying at the right temperature.
6. Inspect the property regularly and keep an eye out for missing shingles on the roof, weathered wood, or rusty ironwork. If there are any missing roof tiles, or you notice any leaks, conduct a full roof inspection.
7. Have a routine for pool maintenance. Regularly check the pH to ensure that the weather is clean and sanitary, and to adjust chlorine levels. At least once a week, check the filters and other pool equipment to ensure everything is functioning properly. If you have issues, contact inground pool services.
8. Look out for splinters, loose boards, or rusty nails in decks and patios, as well as cracked windows or damaged siding. During the summer there is more activity and things tend to get damaged more. They need to be repaired.
9. Trim trees and bushes that grow past their limits and compromise your space or present a safety hazard to powerlines or your property.
10. Regularly mow your lawn and develop a schedule for trimming hedges and getting rid of weeds. If you have a garden, water, weed, and maintain it on a schedule.
11. Clean and maintain grills, firepits, and other outdoor equipment.
12. Ensure that windows and doors are closed and locked whenever you are not home.
13. If you use solar power, make sure you are getting and storing a good charge. If you have any issues, contact the solar company and get your unit repaired.
14. Deal with any plumbing issues you have while people are still using the vacation home. Don’t wait to contact plumbing repair if your sinks aren’t draining or you have toilet or water pressure issues.
A ‘caring for your vacation house checklist’ for fall is all about closing things up so they are safe for winter and doing forms of maintenance that are inconvenient or expensive during the summer when activity is highest. Once your family and guests are gone, you have some much-needed time to make repairs and upgrades and work out your strategy for dealing with low temperatures, winter storms, and animals who want to set up residency in your vacation home.
1. Clean the property thoroughly when you move out. Scrub the windows and floors. Wash all of the bedsheets and linens and put them away in sealed bags. Dust and vacuum.
2. Turn off and unplug all appliances, including the refrigerator and stove.
3. Drain all of the pipes and turn off the water supply. If the pipes are full of water they could burst during the winter when temperatures drop.
4. Check your heating system and make sure everything is working properly. If you are heating the house during the winter, ensure that the settings are correct.
5. Do a last inspection to see if there was anything damaged during the summer and repair it. Check to see if there are any missing shingles on the roof or loose boards on the deck.
6. Drain the pool, or reduce it to the recommended winter water levels. Make sure that filters have been removed and chemicals are safely stored for the winter. If necessary, set alarms to notify you of freezing temperatures as a part of your caring for your vacation house checklist.
7. Check the thermostats to make sure they are accurate and working in conjunction with your heating system.
8. Seal any gaps in windows or doors that are causing drafts, and could increase winter heating costs, if you are running a baseline heater during the winter.
9. Cover fire pits, grills, and barbecues as well as boats, kayaks, or other equipment that can’t be stored indoors for the winter.
10. Remove any deck furniture and store it indoors.
11. If you use storm shutters, attach them to protect your windows and doors from damage. Clear all gutters and downspouts to prevent ice from forming there in the winter.
12. Prepare for the winter with a maintenance schedule, including snow removal. If you can’t check up on the property regularly, contract someone locally to do it for you and help you manage repairs that could come from winter storms, vandalism, or other damage.
A winter ‘caring for your vacation house checklist’ is just about monitoring the systems you have in place, and being on hand to resolve any issues that come up. Winter is usually a time when the house is left alone, which means there is much less wear and tear from people – but a whole new suite of risks that come from weather and the natural world. During the winter, temperatures drop and there is snowfall, hail, and high winds. To escape the storms, critters like mice, birds, and insects move indoors where they can wreak havoc on your vacation home.
1. Follow the system you set for snow removal and property checks. If you can’t physically be on-site, pay someone local to check in on your vacation home regularly, as well as after big storms to make sure everything is alright.
2. Check the systems you set up as regularly as you can. Make sure thermostats are reading the temperature correctly if you have temperature alarms set, etc.
3. Whether or not you are heating your vacation home in the winter, ensure there is good airflow and that air is being exchanged as a part of your caring for your vacation house checklist. This can help to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. If you don’t have a good air exchange system and you can’t leave windows or doors open, use a dehumidifier.
4. Look for signs of rodents or insects that have moved in, like scratches or droppings, and take steps to remove a full-blown infestation.
5. Watch out for damage caused by storms and for debris like branches and garbage. Keep the property clear for safety, and repair any damaged windows or roofing before more expensive damage can occur.
After a long winter, it’s time to open things back up and get everything ready for another fantastic summer. Your ‘caring for your vacation house checklist’ in spring is all about making necessary repairs, cleaning everything out, and setting you and your family up for a carefree vacation season. Spring is the perfect time to make upgrades and repairs, but it’s also an excuse to get creative with a whole new look for your vacation home, or splurge on new equipment or features that you can enjoy all summer.
1. Inspect everything for damage that might have been caused during the winter, and do repairs as necessary.
2. Do a spring cleaning! Wash all of the bedsheets and linens, and scrub the kitchen and bathroom.
3. Check the heating system and thermostats, as well as the AC system (even if it is too cold to use it yet). If you smell a bad smell, see a leak, or notice that the air isn’t functioning like it should contact an HVAC technician to service it.
4. Turn the water supply back on, checking all lines and pipes for damage. If there are any leaks or issues, get them repaired by a licensed professional.
5. Remove winter covers from outdoor furniture and equipment, or move them from storage back into the yard.
6. Open your pool for the season by restoring the water level, shocking it with chlorine, and replacing the filters. Do a full audit of pool equipment and chemicals, replacing anything that is broken or outdated.
7. Test all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.
8. Check the septic tank, and if necessary contact a septic cleaning service. Spring is the perfect time to clear your septic tank before it gets a lot of use during the summer.
9. Give your vacation house a facelift and a new look ahead of summer as a part of your caring for your vacation house checklist. Get a pressure washing company to clean your siding and deck. Put a whole new coat of paint on your vacation house. Contact a garage door service to give you an automatic garage door opener. If there are updates you can make that you will enjoy all summer, now is the time to make them!
10. Check the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they are working and set them at the right temperatures.
11. Ensure that all windows and doors are secure and sealed.
Caring for Your Vacation Home Year-Round
Maintaining a vacation home is a lot of work, and that work changes depending on the seasons, but with some checklists and systems, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Also, a lot of these items repeat every season. You’re always going to be looking out for missing shingles and broken windows, and when there is debris in your yard or a mess in your rain gutters, you’ll need to deal with that too. If you’re not around for the entire year, it can make a big difference to have someone local who can check up on your vacation home during the winter and make sure that everything is okay after a storm.
A vacation home is heaven during the summer, and you can enjoy it to the fullest by maintaining it and caring for it year-round. Having a ‘caring for your vacation house checklist’ to follow by the season can give you a framework to follow and help you remember the most important details.