As thermometers melt in some portions of the U.S., now is perhaps not the most popular time to start thinking about frozen pipes, mountains of snow and other signs that winter’s coming to do a number on your house.

But for service members facing a late-summer or fall change of station, or for others who may relocate later in the year, it might not be too early to consider winterizing ― maybe not shutting off your outside water, or anything, but planning for how to ensure your home is taken care of if nobody’s in it when the temperature starts to drop.

There is some midsummer news for VA loan holders in such a situation: While past VA rules have allowed loan servicers to claim winterization costs in some states in some parts of the year, a change allows those claims to be filed year-round anywhere outside of Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

VA’s guidance on property maintenance (PDF) offers some good advice for all homeowners, not just VA loan servicers, on how to prep your property for the cold weather, especially if you won’t be around to check for frozen pipes or use any of the water in the water heater. Popular Mechanics has a few suggestions, too, and the folks at point out a key tip for home-sellers: If you’ve stopped utilities as part of a winterization, you’ll need to arrange for them to be turned back on prior to any appraisals, or risk having to reschedule.

Learn more about the VA Loan process at our VA Loan Center.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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