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Old 12-12-2015, 11:12 AM   #1
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Name: Biker
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winterizing a house

I hope it's okay to post this question in this particular forum.

Friends in North Carolina need to winterize their home while they are gone for a few months ...

what temperature should the thermostat be set to during Dec-Mar time frame?

what else should be done to the home?

Thank you!
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Old 12-12-2015, 12:45 PM   #2
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Shut off what water that is possible. If the house has hot water or steam heat then the boiler has to have pressure to it at all times. Washing machine hoses and those flexible hoses that connect to faucets or toilets can be weak points. I have relatives that had experience with those bursting. I have an alarm system that I bought at Amazon. It will call three phone numbers that I programmed into it if one of the following occurs; temperature below 45 degrees, power outage, water on floor ( has a sensor to put on floor). It cost about $75. It is not connected to any alarm company. I have my cell phone numbers programmed in. It has called me for low temps, and then I call my service company to go fix the problem. I keep the thermostat set at 58. Look for PM I'm sending to you.
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:22 PM   #3
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Hi Biker,
I close up my parents home every winter, when they go to the south. The thermostat is set to 50, many folks say 45 is ok. Then shut off the water, drain the water lines at the lowest point. Pour rv antifreeze into the sink drains (for the traps), into the toilets (both the bowl and the reservoir). I also put some antifreese into the washing maching drain (it's on the 2nd floor). Set your hot water tank to Vac setting or turn it off completely. Put lights on timers (get several-ones that are easy to program). Have outside lights on timer switches and/or motion detectors. Arrange for the cable, mail and newspaper to stop or be forwarded. Get an alarm system. Have a trustworthy friend or relative check on the house and water any plants, if necessary. Hope that helps.
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:41 PM   #4
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Bob-THANKS !! I never thought of the inlet hoses to the washing machine. Even though the water is shut off, if we had a winter storm of any duration (and we ARE overdue), those hoses would freeze quickly. All I have to do is unscrew them and empty the hoses into a bucket and reconnect for the spring water-turn-on-ceremony.
I am adding that to my check list. Thank you !
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:53 PM   #5
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Be sure that the insurance on the house is good if the house if not occupied for a period of time.

Bill
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Old 12-12-2015, 05:47 PM   #6
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Read the insurance policy carefully. In most, the fine print says the house needs to be checked upon every three days if there are no low temperature or water alarms. If the house is not checked upon, and water damage occurs, you are NOT covered!

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Old 12-13-2015, 08:39 AM   #7
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Hi Tom,

When you say lowest point in house, after I turned off water do I open faucets in laundry tub in basement? Also would you flush toilet and get rid of any water completely in the bowl before adding antifreeze? So what is the vac setting on a water heater? Thank you!


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Old 12-13-2015, 09:27 AM   #8
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Also remember your frige. ice maker the valve is plastic and at a low point on the frig.
Eddie
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Old 12-13-2015, 10:08 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by CampyTime View Post
Hi Tom,

When you say lowest point in house, after I turned off water do I open faucets in laundry tub in basement? Also would you flush toilet and get rid of any water completely in the bowl before adding antifreeze? So what is the vac setting on a water heater? Thank you!


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Some w/h have a VAC setting for "vacation"
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Old 12-13-2015, 11:42 AM   #10
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Different houses will have different procedures to winterize. We have hot water baseboard heat and get our domestic hot water (faucets) from a coil in the boiler. We have a drilled well with a submersible pump and a water softener and sulfur removal system. That involves 4 pieces of equipment with water in them. When we are away for a time in cold weather I don't shut it all down, only what can be done easily like the washer, sinks, and toilets. Only problem I've had was my 4" cast iron trap in the basement that is just ahead of the pipe out to my septic tank froze, but we had an unusually long period of cold temps last winter in the Northeast.
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:24 PM   #11
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Be sure that the insurance on the house is good if the house if not occupied for a period of time.

Bill
Excellent advice!

Read your homeowners insurance policy as different insurer's have different language in their policies concerning unoccupied and or vacant properties. Variations can include specific length of time the property can be vacant/unoccupied before insurance coverage levels change for the worse or lapse altogether.

Probably a good time for you to have your annual "Farmer's Friendly Review" with your current insurance agent to review your coverage's and make sure your current insurance plan fits your current liability & property insurance needs when at home and on the road.
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:37 PM   #12
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I had two homes for a number of years...one was where I live now in the Adirondack region of upstate NY on the Vermont border. I found a simple device that you connect to your land line phone at the house you are leaving. I set my thermostat to 55 degrees. Anytime you call the phone with this device attached the phone will ring if the temp is above 45 degrees. If the temp in the house is below 45 degrees the line will be busy (busy signal when you call). It is simple and it works. Have local help on call to handle the problem. My local oil/heating service company has a key to the house. Emergency service has been pre-arranged. They do this for several lakefront homes in the area during winter months. This device is available at most hardware stores. It works, it is low cost.
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:57 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=Uplander;562628]I had two homes for a number of years...one was where I live now in the Adirondack region of upstate NY on the Vermont border. I found a simple device that you connect to your land line phone at the house you are leaving. I set my thermostat to 55 degrees. Anytime you call the phone with this device attached the phone will ring if the temp is above 45 degrees. If the temp in the house is below 45 degrees the line will be busy (busy signal when you call).

How often would you call your house? The device I have calls as soon as the temp gets to 45 degrees. Seems like every time that has happened it was in the middle of the night, like 2 or 3 AM. When I worked for a fuel company as a service tech it always seemed like I would get called out during the night for no heat service. A couple times I remember the customer saying "it was making a funny noise all day". LOL, so you waited until 1:00 AM to call !! There is another simple device that senses low temperature, plugs in to an outlet, plug a lamp into it, put lamp in window, lamp lights at low temp, hope neighbor sees light and checks house.
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Old 12-13-2015, 05:23 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=CampyTime;562579]Hi Tom,

When you say lowest point in house, after I turned off water do I open faucets in laundry tub in basement? Also would you flush toilet and get rid of any water completely in the bowl before adding antifreeze? So what is the vac setting on a water heater? Thank you!

Hi Campy,
My parents house is set up with a "pit" in the basement floor. It contains the pump and the air bladder for a well system. I shut off the water, after the air bladder, open a spigot up stairs, then go back to the pit, where we installed a fitting and just drain it to the floor drain. I'm sure it doesn't get everything out of the line, just not an exact science. We leave the air bladder pressurized and connected to electric.

If you are on city water, just turn off the first valve where it comes inside, from the source. Find a low spot down in the basement and open the faucet. You will drain most of it that way (open a faucet upstairs to aid in draining). I also open the faucets on the outside of the house.They do make little plastic boxes that fit over the faucet to help insulate them.

The toilets get flushed after the water is turned off, then I pour some rv antifreeze into the bowl and the reservoir.

Setting the hot water tank to vacation setting (marked on the tanks temperature setting dial) mostly just runs on the pilot light. We have had discussions on whether or not to drain it and shut the power off to it. If you have an electric hot water tank, I would probably turn it off and drain it. The only problem then is that when you return home, you may have to wait a few hours until you can take a shower.

What Ed said about the refrigerator is something I forgot to mention. We unplug it and put a small block in to let air get to the interior. I take the ice maker out and set it in the kitchen sink.

Which just reminded me that I forgot to check under their bar for tonic bottles that could freeze and break. I'll have to look for Bloody Mary and Margaritta mix also, since it has no alcohol.

I will add that to my checklist- which is what I use in the spring to reverse the process. Checklists sure do make it easier, faster and thorough. Start one. Leave it where if someone else is opening the house, they will have a reference to follow.

All the other comments are such a help-that's one of the things about travelers: they have a checklist AND rely on their wits. Even though I don't have a trailer yet, I read all I can here. Because they have been there and done that- I can just coast on their merits.
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Old 12-13-2015, 07:07 PM   #15
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Get yourself one of these https://store.nest.com/product/therm...paign=nestlabs
you can observe and control your home temperature from anywhere. I also recommend the Nest fire/smoke alarm in case of fire it will shut down your HVAC.
They both are easy installs....
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Old 12-14-2015, 10:42 AM   #16
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I call the house phone daily in AM...if it rings...no problem...busy...big problem and next call is to service company.

I saw the device that will turn on a light if heat fails. My problem is I never camp close enough to my home to see the light and my other home was a 6 hour drive away!

My "call method" worked for over 10 years and did save the day once in those 10 years. I called from the U.S. Virgin Islands and got a busy signal...waited 30 minutes and called again...still busy...then called the service folks...problem solved before noon.

This is one of many such devices. It is the most cost effective.
The idea of draining the pipes is a complicated one and requires many plumbing modifications and a compressor to do right...always a very "chancy" proposition.
I owned a seasonal lakefront camp for a dozen years and know all the problems associated with draining the water pipes, well pipes etc...you will need a real professional plumber who services a lot of seasonal homes to get it right the first time!

Good Luck!
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