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Heading south for the winter? Make sure your home is ready!

winter houseNow is the time of year Minnesota "snow birds" start thinking about heading south for the winter. There are a number of things residents should do before leaving their Woodbury homes to make sure no problems develop while they're gone.

One of the worst things that could happen during the winter months is for the heat to turn off for an extended period of time, causing the plumbing to freeze up. If a pipe freezes and breaks, the flooding could cause extensive damage to the home. The best way to prevent this is to shut off water at the curb. While turning water off at the meter is good, there is still a chance that pipe between the meter and the floor could freeze. Turning the service off at the curb and draining the water line would prevent this.

The Woodbury Public Works Department offers this service at no charge to residents who are away from their homes for an extended period. To learn more about shutting off water to a home, contact the Public Works Department at 651-714-3720. The homeowner must call at least two days in advance of needing the water shut off. The city prefers the homeowner be present when staff arrives to shut off the water at the curb.

Before you leave
In addition to shutting off your water at the curb, consider taking these additional actions when leaving town for an extended period of time:

  • Have a friend or neighbor check your home on a regular basis (two to three times a week).
  • Have your mail forwarded to you or have someone pick it up daily.
  • Cancel your newspaper delivery.
  • Give your phone number to a neighbor so they can notify you if needed.
  • Reduce your heat.
  • Drain your plumbing system and hot water heater.
  • Put recreational vehicle anti-freeze in your plumbing fixture traps including the floor drains.
  • Have someone keep the driveway clear of snow and ice. Keep the sidewalks shoveled. Make sure this will be done in a timely manner to avoid giving the impression nobody is home.
  • Put lights on timers in areas typically lighted at night. Put music on a timer for daytime use. Vary the lighting times to reflect your normal routine. Make your home look lived in.
  • Have the people checking your house change the look every so often to give it a lived-in appearance. Open and close different curtains, change the light timers around a bit. Move items like magazines or papers, dishes or shoes to make it look more natural. Never pile up mail in a single central location, especially the kitchen table or countertop where it is an obvious sign you are gone.

New technologies can help
In addition, consider using new technologies to help keep an eye on your home while you are away. A home temperature sensor will alert you via cell phone if the temperature in your home falls too low. Also, there are products available that allow you to monitor and adjust your home thermostat remotely through the Wi-Fi. In addition, a digital video camera allows you to check on your home visually through a remote internet connection.