Snowbirds Leaving South Florida: How to Prevent Fire, Mold and Water Damage

South Florida is a short-term nesting spot for thousands of “snowbirds.” For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a “snowbird” is someone from the U.S. Northeast or Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or Canada who spends a large portion of the winter season in warmer climates, like Florida. Those of us who live in the Sunshine State year-round refer to the snow birds’ stay as “season,” and recognize it as such every year with the long waits in restaurants, increased traffic, and crowded beaches. For the most part, we friendly Floridians do not mind the extra company, but it is certainly a marked difference when the weather really heats up and the snow birds “fly” back north.

Many snowbirds will soon be making the trip back to their homes in cooler climates. An important part of their preparation is readying their condos, townhouses, or homes for many months of vacancy. Sadly, mold, fire, and water disasters are common in the property owner’s absence. Even the best prepared properties sometimes experience an unforeseen event, and a neighbor, house sitter, or the property owner themselves discover a problem, sometimes of great proportion if the problem goes unchecked for some time.

The following are meant to help snowbirds prepare their properties in Florida for their return to homes further north:

  • Set Your Air Conditioning at 75 – 80 ̊. DO NOT turn your air conditioning off.  This will reduce electric bills and prevent mold build-up on walls and carpets. In older homes with humidistats, change the setting to read 60, which will pull the humidity out of the air and protect against mold and mildew.
  • Turn the Water Off. Using the emergency cut-off valve outside your home, shut the water off from the source. Then, turn on your sink and bathtub valves until no water comes out and all air pressure is released from within the pipes.
  • Drain & Unplug the Hot Water Heater. Drain and unplug your hot water heater or flip the circuit-breaker to cut power from it.
  • Unplug Electrical Devices & Personal Computers. Unplug personal computers, lamps, televisions, stereos, toasters and any other electrical devices. If you have a modem connecting to your computer, remove the phone jack from the wall.
  • Leave Your Refrigerator On. Do not unplug the refrigerator or freezer, and do not leave perishable food items stored inside.
  • Open Your Dishwasher and Washing Machine Doors. Leave your dishwasher and washing machine doors propped open to prevent mold growth from residual moisture.
  • Upgrade Supply Lines. Reduce the chance of a supply line breaking by replacing plastic/rubber with stainless steel.
  • Close the Flue. If you have a fireplace, close the flue to stop humidity from getting in and air conditioning from getting out.
  • Prepare for a Possible Hurricane Before you Leave. Find out from your association if you can prepare for a hurricane before you leave by putting up shutters, etc.

The above tips do not guarantee that your home will not experience some type of water, mold or fire damage in your absence. We suggest that you give a trusted friend or neighbor a key, any security alarm information, and a number where you can be reached just in case your property experiences an event while you are away. If you find yourself in need of fire damage cleanup and restoration, water restoration services, or mold remediation, contact Joe Taylor Restoration immediately. We will see to it that your home away from home is restored to the tropical retreat you know and love.