vacation home
Photo: Chad Holder
Saying good-bye to a seasonal property is an annual ritual for the countless Americans who own unwinterized vacation homes. Falling temperatures can wreak havoc on plumbing, so pipes must be drained. Mattresses and bedding have to be protected or they'll make cozy nests for critters. Kitchenware needs to be packed up tight, away from insects and dust, and appliances unplugged to guard against lightning strikes.

Some of these preparations require a plumber's know-how, but most call for old-fashioned ingenuity. Sharon Halverson has been shutting down her lakeside cabin in central Minnesota for nearly 35 years. “It takes about a day,” she says of the early-fall routine shown on the following pages. “But once we're done, we set the alarm, and that's the end of it.” At least until the sun warms and the clear lake waters call vacationers back next year.

Did I Remember To...?

Before you hit the lights and turn the key in the lock for the last time, make sure you've taken care of these house-protecting tasks.
•Shut off the water
•Unplug all appliances — especially the television — and telephones in case of a lightning strike
•Turn off all circuit breakers except the ones for alarms
•Turn off the gas supply
•Empty the refrigerator and cupboards: Food can attract animals, and canned goods can explode if they freeze
•Put away outdoor furniture, grills, and other accessories, including garbage cans
•Lock shed and garage doors
•Hang a few strips of flypaper
•Lock all windows and doors
•Take the last load of garbage to the dump

Where to Find It

Plumbers:
Jack Adams
Adams & Sons Plumbing
Deerwood, MN
218-534-3647

Mike Trefethen
Mike's Plumb Crazy
Crosby, MN
218-546-7773
Ask TOH users about Winter Upkeep

Contribute to This Story Below