I saw an article on your site about leaving a house during the winter for a couple of weeks. You advised them not to turn off the heat. I understand this. However, we will be gone for about six months. We are also from the upstate New York area. With heating prices being what they are, do you have suggestions on winterizing a home for this length of time?
A friend of ours winterizes places in the Adirondacks by blowing out the water pipes, etc. This would save thousands if we could do this. If the pipes are blown out, what other things should we consider?
Don't forget to drain your toilet and water heater and add antifreeze to your drains to sit in the traps. Check the manual for your washing machine to see what it says about using antifreeze to keep it from freezing. It will have water left in the bottom that will ruin it if left to freeze. Canned goods, bottles, and aerosol cans can also burst in cold weather. If you know someone with a travel trailer, ask him or her for some winterizing tips. They have to be taken care of in the fall if they aren't stored in a heated area.
I have a summer home in North Texas that I shut down for four months every winter. I have done this for eight years and have not had any problems. Even though it does not get as cold here as upstate New York, it does get below freezing. Here's what I do:
Call the local Water Department that furnishes water to your home, and talk to them about your situation. A water service person will come out and shut off the water supply at a shut-off valve in your yard or the street. Afterwards, you will need to empty your hot water heater of water, and open all your water faucets in your home so they will empty.
I worked at a public water works many years ago, and a lot of people going south for the winter had this done. When they returned, they called the water works to turn the water back on outside.
So, call your local water works, and talk to them. I am sure I have given you accurate information, but as I said, it's been many years since I worked for a water works.
Yes, winterizing your home is cost-effective and not that hard to do! We are gone for five months and live in the northern Midwest. Shut off the water supply to the house, and drain the lines including the outside faucets (shut them back off after they're drained). You can blow the lines out with air pressure if you feel the need, but we never do. Take some of the pink RV antifreeze and put it into all of your drains (toilets, showers, sinks, etc.). Turn off and drain the hot water heater.
Don't turn off the heat, as everything freezes (canned goods, shampoo, etc.). Instead, just turn your thermostat down as low as it will go. When you have someone come in to check the house, have him or her make sure that the furnace is running okay. It's better to have it run a little than to make your home into a deep freeze. If you have hot water heat, that's a different story and I would recommend contacting a heating contractor or repairperson to give you advice on that.
Also, put your phones, cable, etc. on vacation status (depending on your provider this can save up to 1/2 or more on the monthly bill). It only cost us $10 to put our cable on vacation status for up to six months (total) and nothing to reactivate. The phone cost was half, but we got to keep the same number that way.
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