If you're a person who likes to take long winter vacations of at least a month or more, or you have a home that you only use in the warmer months, then you need to prepare your plumbing and heating systems for the winter. Leaving the home vacant for long periods during freezing weather may have serious consequences if you haven't had it prepared. Anything that stores water, even a small amount, can potentially freeze and burst. Here are some tips for preparing your heating and plumbing systems for extended vacancy during winter.
Preparing your heating system
Even though you may not be using your heating system while you are away, you will still want to make some preparations. Have your heating system checked and perform annual maintenance before you leave. Some heating systems can contain water either through condensation or as an integral part of the heating system. It may not be possible to simply shut off these systems. Have a specialist check any system that uses water to see what can be done to prevent the possibility of water freezing in the system. If you don't plan to stay away for an extended period, you may be better turning down the system rather than turning it all the way off.
Prepare plumbing system
Any time you plan to be gone for a long time, shut your water main valve and empty the pipes in your home. Run the faucets and flush the toilets until they run dry. Turn off the gas and/or electrical supply to the water heater and drain the water, but make sure the water has cooled as much as possible first. If you must drain it while it is hot, use hoses that are designed for hot water. Though it is recommended that you blow out the plumbing lines with compressed air, it may be best to leave that to a plumbing professional. Pour safe antifreeze, like that used for RVs and boats, into the empty toilets once the system has drained.
In some areas, you may be required to turn off the gas to your home if you are going to be gone for more than three months. This should only be done by an expert and often requires contacting the utility company to turn off and lock the meter. For best results on winterizing your vacant home, contact a specialist who deals with plumbing and heating systems, such as SDA Armstrong Mechanical Services Ltd. They are experts on different types of systems and will know what to do to prevent damage from freezing.