10 Steps to Prepare Your Home for Vacancy in Winter

As winter nears, it’s time to prepare for cold weather ahead. From taping up windows to cleaning your drains, there are many areas of the home to get ready. For those who are heading south for the season, this preparation may look a little different. Still, as anyone who has experienced frozen or burst pipes can proclaim, preparing your home for winter is important to ensure that no problems arise while you’re away. Before you trade snowflakes for sunbathing, follow these 10 steps. With your plumbing ready for the cold, relaxing in the sun will truly be worry-free.

  1. Drain Your Pipes: When water is left sitting inside of pipes, cold temperatures can cause that water to freeze, putting you at risk for bursting pipes. To prevent this, first turn off your water supply. Next, run your faucets until no more water is left. To allow excess air out, leave one faucet open while the rest are closed.
  2. Turn Off the Hot Water Heater: In addition to turning off the water supply, you’ll also need to turn off your hot water heater. This will keep your hot water heater from overheating. As a benefit, doing so will also save energy and lower your electric bill. Some hot water heaters also have a vacation setting, which is another effective option.
  3. Prevent a Freezing Toilet: To keep your toilet from freezing and cracking, begin by draining the tank. Since you won’t be able to completely empty all of the water, you’ll need to protect it with antifreeze. To do this, pour antifreeze into the bowl. When you return from your southern stay, simply flush the antifreeze down the toilet. To keep it nontoxic, use marine or RV antifreeze.
  4. Unhook Your Garden Hose: If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to unhook your garden hose. Be sure to empty out all of the water before storing your hose in your garage or garden shed. This will not only protect your hose, but also your house, since a frozen hose can burst interior pipes.
  5. Insulate Exterior Faucets: Winterizing your pipes includes exterior faucets as well. After draining your exterior pipes, insulate your faucet using a faucet sock or styrofoam cover. This insulation will prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting while you’re away.
  6. Run Your Washing Machine on Hot: To flush out any solids in the pipes leading to your washer, run your washer on hot before you leave. This will also eliminate any odor-causing bacteria.
  7. Empty Your Ice Maker: If your freezer has an ice maker, be sure to turn off and completely empty your ice maker before you leave. An ice maker holds enough ice to cause water damage in the case of a power outage. Additionally, leaving your ice maker running can cause it to malfunction.
  8. Keep the Heat On: While it may seem like a good idea to turn your heat off during your time away, low temperatures can cause your pipes to burst. Therefore, it’s best to keep your heat at a temperature of at least 55 degrees to maintain warm pipes. If you have sensitive plants or you’re leaving pets at home, you’ll want to take them into consideration, as well.
  9. Leave Cabinet Doors Open: Allow heat to circulate around the plumbing in your kitchen and bathroom(s) by opening cabinet doors in these areas.
  10. Post Reminders for Your Return: Upon your return home, it’s important to turn your water supply on before turning on your hot water heater. You’ll also want to be sure to close all faucets, such as the one you left open for excess air, before turning on the water supply. A few well-placed signs or a checklist can help you de-winterize your home in proper order.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you can put your mind at ease knowing your home is safe and sound. If this feels like too big of a task or you’d rather have a professional take care of it, be sure to call Pioneer Plumbing and Heating today.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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