Tips for First-time Snowbirds

by | Nov 2023

Home Security

Illustration: Jamie Klang

As winter weather returns, so do long days spent away from home—with family and friends or, perhaps, in warmer climes. Winterizing is a task we’re all used to as Minnesotans, but, for snowbirds, there can be a bit more to it. To learn more about keeping homes safe and secure, we connected with certified home watch reporter Ana Cantell, owner of Snowbird Home Watch based in North Oaks.

Cantell suggests planning ahead, so your home looks lived-in. Line up snow removal services, and decide whether to hold mail or have someone collect and forward it to deter home invaders. Setting up timer switches on lights is also a great idea, Cantell says.

Avoid water damage by taking proper precautions. Cantell often recommends shutting off the water at the main supply valve; she will return weekly to check for damage, turning the water on and exercising pipes, appliances and water heaters before turning it off and draining pipes. “These systems are not meant to just sit for months on end. They’re really meant to run,” Cantell says. Using and flushing these items weekly will ensure nothing gets stagnant. (Cantell suggests consulting a plumbing professional before deciding whether to turn off your water supply.)

Regularly maintain your home and check in with your large systems—especially your furnace—prior to leaving. “A lot of people have remote and wifi-enabled monitoring of their AC and furnace, so they can change and set the temperature when they’re gone, which is great,” Cantell says. Even so, it’s important to ensure a person you trust is monitoring your home, so malfunctions are discovered quickly and there’s someone to help direct and let in repair professionals, Cantell says.

For more information on how to protect your home when you’re away, visit


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