Recordbreaking Snow? – I Need a Vacation & Checklist!

Cleaning the Rink - Chicago Blizzard 2011
Cleaning the Rink – Chicago Blizzard 2011

Next week is the first anniversary of last years record breaking Blizzard that swept through the Nation and today is the 45th anniversary of the 1967 heaviest snowfall in Chicago!  Last years event was the third heaviest snowfall on record here with 21 inches total.

How top Chicago snowstorms stack up:

  1. 1967 – 23.0” – Jan. 27
  2. 1999 – 21.6” – Jan. 3
  3. 2011 – 21.2” – Feb 2
  4. 1979 – 20.3” – Jan. 14

Contrary to what the Farmers Almanac predicted, this year we’ve only seen a few inches so far, so go figure.  However, who knows what’s coming?  Historically, February is almost equal to January in number of significant snowstorms – so I think it’s still a good time to be thinking “Vacation”.  In anticipation, here’s a detailed checklist to keep your home healthy whenever you’re gone.

Vacation Checklist:

  1. Thermostats set at 50 to 55 degrees F.  –  Remember, you want to keep some heat on to prevent freezing.
  2. Timers on lights  –  Include outside lights and TV if possible to mimic typical activity patterns.
  3. Stop Paper & Mail  –  and/or ask a friend to come by and pick up delivered items that are left.
  4. Lock Garage & Gates  –  If the overhead door has an automatic opener to it, unplug it.
  5. Turn Down Water Heater – this will reduce the amount of power keeping water lukewarm until you get back.
  6. Unplug Electronics – This includes everything.  “Phantom” power accounts for 15% of total power consumption.
  7. Remove Refrigerator Food – take out food that might spoil during the time you are gone.
  8. Hide Valuables  –  Put valuable items into a safe, safe-deposit box or other non-obvious and well hidden location.
  9. Notify the Police – Call the local non-emergency number and ask if the Police will do a vacation check.

The result of a broken heating pipe!

Wintertime Additional Checklist:

  1. Snow Removal  –   Make arrangements to have snow removed from driveway and walkways to your doorways.
  2. Turn off Water  –  Shut off water to toilets and washing machine.  Also, do not leave the dishwasher running, turn off water there if possible.
  3. Water Pipes  –  Drain or wrap insulation around water pipes in unheated areas such as crawl spaces and porches.
  4. Hose Bibbs  –  Be certain that all hose attachments, including adapters are removed from all exterior faucets during freezing weather.
  5. Open Inside Doors  –  Opening doors and cabinet fronts under sinks will help assure that heated air can circulate keeping all rooms and closets warm.
  6. Check Humidistat  –  The humidity levels in your house should not be set too high or the formation of moisture and bacteria molds can occur.   This is true anytime.
  7. Trust Someone with a key  –  It is always advisable to have a key handy with someone you trust who can come by and check in daily or at least in sub-zero temperatures!
About Paul Armstrong

Paul is an architect and president of Edward A. Anderson Company