Beautiful beaches and warm weather, it’s no wonder many desire to make Naples, Bonita Springs or Marco Island, Florida home. However, not wanting to leave family or deal with the heat of summer, many decide it is best to make this their second home. In fact, 2/3 of the population in Naples, Bonita Springs, or Marco Island are part-timers, also known as snowbirds.
However, the joy of going back north is tainted with the stress of what may be happen to your second home. This stress is rightfully placed if you choose to leave your home without taking any form of precautions. There is a lot that can go wrong in a short period of time.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to prepare your home, that will give you the peace of mind you deserve while gone!
Homeowners on Naples, Bonita Springs, or Marco Island, Florida have to combat a host of issues ranging from mold to water damage to hurricanes.
We perform several thousand home watch visits a season and keep detailed data analytics on everything, we can tell you what goes wrong, where it goes wrong, and how often. Below is a quick graph showing you the 4 most common types of issues we see each season.
Being responsible for almost half of all the incidents we face, HVAC and water related incidents are not just the most common issue we face but also the ones that have the potential to be the mist severe.
One small issue could lead to a swimming pool in your living room or a mold infested master bedroom. One week the A/C is working, the next it is down. Fortunately, there are things that you can do prepare your home from these issues.
While things can go wrong while you are away, doing these simple actions can better prepare your home:
Preventing potential water damage is one of the most important things you can do before you leave for the season. In fact, most Homeowner’s Insurance policies will deny your claim if over 30 days transpire from when an issue manifest to when it is caught. The last thing you want is for a pipe to burst and your home becomes an aquarium!
Whenever you are gone for more than 10 days, it is important to turn off your water valve before you leave to prevent water damage from happening to your home. Remember, this will not solve all water related issues as there is still water in the pipes from before you turned off your water valve, water in your tank-based Hot Water Heater, and the constant rain that marks the start of summer here in Naples, Bonita Springs, or Marco Island to name a few potential sources, but it will go a long way in greatly alleviating your risk!
However, when your water is shut off for prolonged periods of time it can lead to insects, noxious odors, or dried out seals. Therefore, every time your Home Watch Company comes, they should run water through every sink, faucet, and trap. But whenever the house is unoccupied that water should be off!
While many of your appliances you should turn off before you leave, your refrigerator is not one of them. However, within your fridge you should turn off your ice maker! Make sure before you leave to turn off your ice maker and empty it. If we lose power, the ice in the freezer could melt, and lead to water damage!
Pro Tip: Leave a bowl of ice for your Home Watch professional, if it loses shape/form, they’ll know you had a surge.
Mold can start at 55% and with average humidity throughout the year over 80%, humidity is a very big concern to a vacant home in Naples, Bonita Springs, and Marco Island.
Since 2015, Florida’s average humidity has been around 30% over the point of mold growth making this no joking matter. Therefore, in order to prepare and protect your home, you must manage the humidity levels of your home.
By properly setting your thermostat, you reduce the likelihood of your humidity exceeding 55% and mold forming. However, while you are gone, your Home Watch professional should still monitor the humidity levels in your home (even if you have a smart thermostat).
As you could tell from the graph above, most home issues in Naples, Bonita Springs, or Marco Island are HVAC related; therefore, it is important to take good care of your unit:
Make sure to leave extra air filters and vinegar for your Home Watch Professional to maintain your HVAC unit while away!
Pro Tip: Have one of your Semi-Annual Servicings in June, so your unit is it’s strongest when it will be working it’s hardest!
Pull down the blinds or close the shades to darken the inside of your home to help manage the temperature in the home.
It is important to leave these doors slightly ajar to allow for proper air flow. By doing this you will help let areas dry out properly and avoid moisture which can lead to mold.
If protecting your home was not difficult enough already, storing a vehicle in this tropical climate presents its own set of challenges too.
Did you know, it’s possible for your neighbor to open your garage door with their garage door opener. Though it does not always happen, if it does, it can be a huge security breach as most of us leave our inside garage door unlocked, allowing anyone access to the home. Besides the possibility of someone having access to the inside of our home, many of us keep valuable equipment in our garage as well.
A simple solution to this problem is to press the lock button on the wall console in your garage. This is located on the wall underneath a plastic cover, you will see an orange light blinking under the cover.
But, remember when you come back you garage remote or car transponder will not work until you re-enable it; however, the garage door panel on the side will work just fine. This is important because your Home Watch Company almost always will come in via the garage to access the house for efficiency!
If you store your car in the garage while you’re away, most people either have their car driven periodically, typically once a month or use a battery maintainer, also known as a trickle charger.
Best practice is to have the car driven. Make sure your Home Watch company drives the vehicle for at least 10-15 minutes, this is important to get the internal temperature of the engine hot enough to remove the moisture in the oil, maintain the battery, rotate the tires, and get the belts moving. Most Home Watch companies offer this service and are happy to provide it upon request, usually for an additional cost.
However, if you go the battery maintainer route, know there are a few additional steps you need to take:
Once you have followed the above prescribed steps, now you can put on the trickle charger!
Prior to shipping your vehicle, take photos and videos. This will serve as proof of the condition of your car before it was shipped.
Pro Tip: Remove your Sun Pass from your vehicle! Otherwise it might be charged during travel!
Everyone’s favorite season, Hurricane Season, is from June 1st till November 30th. Therefore, it is important to take precautions prior to heading back for the summer. While, direct hits by Hurricanes do not happen every year, when they do, it is no laughing matter. The impact can be devastating so you never want to be caught unaware, your home is too important of an investment.
Not every home has hurricane glass, if your home has traditional aluminum shutters, make sure to perform a test run before you leave so you know every screw and every panel is ready in the event of a storm.
If you have accordion track shutters that lock with a key, make sure to coordinate with your Home Watch Professional before leaving for the season to ensure they have a key and know where an emergency extra key will be kept in the event of a storm.
Many people in Naples, Bonita Springs, and Marco Island, FL have been switching to an emerging hurricane shutter technology that is cloth based instead of the traditional aluminum. These fabric hurricane shutters which are made of lightweight synthetic fibers are often designed with an automated feature, making it easy for you to use during a storm. Some can even be controlled remotely.
If you have automated shutters for your lanai the best practice is to leave the storm shutters in the down position when you leave for the season. We call this being in the ready position!
Pro Tip: In the event that the automatic shutters fail, make sure the pole to manually lower the shutters is readily available.
While it is important to prepare the inside of your home with hurricane shutters, it is equally important to prepare the outside too! There are several items you will want to bring inside in the event of a storm. A little preparation before you leave goes a long way.
Due to the severity of storms in the Naples, Bonita Springs, or Marco Island area during the summer, it is important to account for any items that could be turned into a battering ram or projectile! The last thing you want is to hurt your home, your neighbor’s, or worse a person!
There are a host of general issues that homeowners can face when leaving for the season. Some are more obvious than others.
When you leave your home unoccupied arrange to have your mail forwarded. Mail clutters quickly, by forwarding, you are ensuring that you won’t miss any important letters. Make sure to leave a note in your mailbox that mail is to be forwarded, the forwarding address and your name.
Remember it can take several weeks for forwarding to take affect. Incase any mail slips through, your Home Watch professional will bring it inside and keep you apprised if you ask him to. Your Home Watch professional should also bring in any packages and remove any solicitations placed on your door. You never want anyone to know you are gone!
Pro Tip: Leave your Home Watch Professional an extra mail key incase of an emergency!
Whenever you leave for long periods of time, not only is it prudent to turn off your water to avoid having a second swimming pool in your home, it also necessitates turning off your Tank-based Hot Water Heater too, so you do not blow up your home! If it is Electric, simply turn it off at the breaker, while if it is gas, turn it to vacation mode or pilot.
Note, if you have a tankless hot water heater, ignore this step, as there is nothing to see here. Check out the decision tree below to make your life easy or check out our article to learn more!
You will be gone for a long time, if the battery dies while you are away, then the appliance or device is incapable of fulfilling its purpose. A dead alarm system or smoke detector is not very useful and allows for serious issues to go undetected.
|Keyless Lock||Shutter Remote Control|
|Garage Door Opener||Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors|
No one wants to come back to a home that smells like a morgue! In case, of power outages or hurricane, it is a great idea to empty out all of the food in your fridge. A neighbor, a block party, or even your local food pantry are all great places to get rid of unwanted food before you leave.
Since thunderstorms are a common occurrence in Naples, Bonita Springs, and Marco Island, it is prudent to turn off major appliances while the house is unoccupied.
The following items can be turned off using the circuit breaker:
Make sure not to turn off your refrigerator as it can have technical issues starting back up or your garbage disposal which can seize up over time from lack of use.
It is important that your circuit breaker is labeled property and each breaker is tested to ensure the key corresponds to the appropriate breaker. The last thing you want to do is think you are turning off the Hot Water Heater and it is actually the A/C!
Your Home Watch professional should properly label and color code your circuit breaker based on your key!
Issues may arise while you are away. Therefore, it is important to develop a list of trusted service providers to give you peace of mind in the event of an emergency. Make sure to share the list with your Home Watch professional so they have it in your profile.
If you are unsure of service providers in your area or are a new homeowner, make sure to contact your Home Watch Company, as most have a Preferred Vendor List they can share with you.
Before leaving Marco Island, Bonita Springs, or Naples, FL for the season it is important to prepare your home to avoid issues from happening when you are away. The two most common issues that can happen are water and HVAC related. Fortunately, there are several actions you can take in order to protect your investment.
First, you can reduce the risk of water damage by turning off your main water valve and emptying the ice maker. Next, you can manage the humidity in your home by properly setting your thermostat, maintaining your A/C unit, closing the blinds of your home, and leaving doors ajar.
Further, you can protect your vehicle by turning off the garage door transponder and taking proper steps to store or ship your vehicle. Also, do not forget about storms! You can prepare for storms by testing hurricane shutters and bringing outdoor items inside. If you have automated shutters make sure to leave them in the down position.
Lastly, you can avoid various general issues by forwarding your mail, properly setting your hot water heater, changing the batteries in all battery-operated devices, emptying the fridge ,amongst other things.
By taking the necessary steps listed above and coordinating with your Home Watch Professional, you will have the peace of mind you deserve!
“Does Shutting Off Your Water Affect Your Water Heater?” Ambient Edge, https://www.ambientedge.com/faqs/does-shutting-off-your-water-affect-your-water-heater/
“What Home Appliances to Turn Off When you Go Out of Town?” Team HomeServe, 22 September 2017, https://www.homeserve.com/en-us/blog/home-improvement/vacation-appliance-checklist
“When is the Best Time to Schedule HVAC Maintenance?” Comfort Incorporated Cooling and Heating, https://www.comfortok.com/blog/hvac/hvac-maintenance-schedule-best-time/
“Monitoring Temperature and Humidity to Control Mold” ThermoPro, 5 January 2020, https://buythermopro.com/guides/temperature-and-humidity-to-kill-mold/
“How Can I Lock my Garage Door When I’m Away on Vacation?” Titan Garage Doors, 8 May 2021, https://www.titangaragedoorsne.com/blog/how-can-i-lock-my-garage-door-when-im-away-on-vacation/
“The Purpose of the Air-Recirculation Button in your Vehicle” Eden Tyres and Servicing, https://www.edentyres.com/the-purpose-of-the-air-recirculation-button-in-your-car/#:~:text=The%20air%20recirculation%20button%20effectively,recirculating’%20air%20inside%20your%20vehicle.&text=This%20is%20because%20modern%20vehicles,%E2%80%9Cair%2Dcirculation%E2%80%9D%20automatically.