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Ask Charles: Prepping your home for a winter vacation

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Flying south for the winter? Taking a long-awaited, long weekend ski trip to enjoy fresh snow on a mountain? As you are packing your bags and checking into your flight reservations, don’t forget to add winter proofing your home to your to-do list. Check out some of these tips for winter-proofing your home.

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1) Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm

If your water supply stays on throughout the winter, you know the danger of frozen pipes and the nightmare they could cause. If you are leaving your home for an extended period in the winter, and don’t drain your water pipes, you will need to keep the furnace running so that the house and pipes stay warm enough that they won’t freeze. A minimum of 55°F should help keep the floor and wall cavities surrounding your pipes warm enough that they won’t freeze. You should also open any cabinets or drawers that hold pipes open to help warmer air circulate.

2) Turn off what you can

When leaving your home for an extended period of time, consider shutting off the washing machines and dishwashers wherever it is possible. This will minimize the risk of broken pipes, leaks or hoses while you are gone. If your pipes leading to your heat source and water supply to hot water heaters are separate from your boiler, you should also consider turning off that supply. This also goes for water faucets outdoors - be sure to shut them off and drain them as much as possible to prevent damage from remaining water freezing in a tight or small space.

3) Don’t let your house look empty

Keep vandals and thieves away by making your home look as though it is continuously occupied. Consider having motion sensor lights outside of your home and interior lights set to a timer at reasonable hours of the night or day. Have a neighbor you trust get your mail and pick up the newspaper from the driveway. In case of a snow storm, enlist the help of a neighbor to shovel your driveway and pathway - this will also make it easier for when you return home.

4) Schedule regular maintenance

Before you leave, schedule your regular maintenance appointment to get your heating system inspected. You should get your fuel tanks filled and then ask a neighbor to check the heat and fuel levels while you are gone if you are going to be there for an extended period of time. This routine maintenance should also include an electrical power check up so that the electrical panel, wiring, and outlets can be repaired if necessary. Remove any leaves or clutter build up from your gutters to prevent damaging buildup.

Take some of these tips into consideration as you prepare for an extended period of time away from your house in the winter and look to Charles for all of your heating, plumbing and electrical needs. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, our 24-hour emergency service is available any day, at any time - (315) 457-6911.