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Before you shut the door to your summer home next week, be sure to take the necessary steps to winterize it so that you don’t open the door next spring to a moldy mess.

1. Get the outside ready. Turn off the water to outside faucets and drain hoses before storing them. You should also close the fireplace flues and dampers to avoid anything unwanted coming down the chimney. Finally, make sure your gutters are clean and downspouts are angled away from your home.

2. Turn off the main water supply. Pipes can freeze and burst during the winter if they are filled with water and the heat is off. So, turn off the main water supply and open all faucets and drain them of water. If you are in a very cold area, you may even want to drain the toilets and water heater. For more information on how to winterize a toilet, click here. To see how to drain a water heater, click here.

3. Set the thermostat. It may seem incongruous to turn on the heat as it is still warm outside, but in a few months when the temperature drops below freezing, a warm house will prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your home dry through the winter. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 55° F and 58° F.

4. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer. Some people choose to empty them completely, and turn off the unit for the season. If you do this, be sure to prop the doors open to prevent mold growth inside. If you decide to leave the fridge on, do not leave anything in it that may spoil if the power goes out. This can be especially dangerous if you leave food in the freezer and lose power for an extended period of time. When the power goes back on, the food will refreeze, and you won’t know that it was defrosted and probably rotted.

5. Clean, clean, clean – and we mean everything! Remove all trash, clean the towels and linens, vacuum, and scrub. It may seem like a burden to clean before you leave, but those little crumbs in the carpet can attract critters and a little bit of mildew in the shower now turn out to be a whole lot of mold later. Make sure your towels and linens are completely dry before you store them.

If you want to be extra cautious, you may want to have a friend or neighbor stop in periodically throughout the season to make sure nothing is awry. Follow these steps and you’ll know that you won’t open the doors to an environmental disaster next season!

There has been a 300% increase in patients diagnosed with asthma over the past 20 years. (USA Weekend)

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