In November, we wrote a post on how to prepare your home for winter vacation. As a follow up, we thought of the many who leave their homes during the Wisconsin winter for warmer climates. Before you leave, however, it’s important to button up your home so as to avoid problems while you’re away. Here’s what you should do if you plan on being away for a month or more during the cold season.
Flush & Insulate the Water Heater
Over time, particles and sediment build up in a water heater. Left not running for extended periods, sediment in a water heater can build up and cause problems. First, you should flush your water heater. In addition to properly winterizing it before you leave town, it will also run better over and stay maintained. Flushing a water heater is pretty simple- it just requires draining water from the heater out through the drain valve. Best part? It’s 100% free.
In order to save guard water freezing within your water heater while you’re away, it’s best to insulate it. If insulated correctly, you’ll also save between 7% and 16% on your water heating costs and reduce heat loss from the water by 25% to 45%. Here’s what you need to insulate your heater:
- A helper (you’ll need four hands for this one)
- Tape measure
- Water heater insulating blanket kit
- Gloves and a dust mask
- Electrical or other tape (tape comes with most insulation blanket kits)
many utility companies will offer insulation blankets and supplies low cost or free of charge- they may even install for little to no cost as well. For electric water heaters, consider installing insulation beneath the tank as well to avoid heat escaping through the bottom. For step-by-step installation instructions, click here.
Turn off Water at the Exterior
If a water heater fails during the winter and pipes freeze, the damage could be enormous. Turn off all water heater at the main supply point.
Open All Faucets and Drain All Waterlines
The biggest concern when leaving your home empty for even a month is freezing and bursting pipes. Consider all the the appliances and tanks in your home that require pipes, and what would happen if they were to freeze and burst. This is possibly the most important item to check off your list before leaving for warmer weather. You should:
- Buy an air compressor to blow water lines of excess water. Water buildup in drain traps can be an issue as well. Purchase an “RV” type antifreeze and pour down drains making sure to follow instructions.
- Close the sink and tub drains.
- Drain water from indoor and outdoor pools.
- Turn off water to all sources of standing water.
- Drain water from dishwashers and again pour RV antifreeze.
Turn Down Thermostat, Unplug Appliances, Clean the Kitchen
Much like you would do if you going out of town for a week or more, you should turn down the thermostat to no lower than 50 degrees. At this temp, you shouldn’t have to worry about pipes freezing. In addition, unplug appliances and electronics that could be damaged from a power surge during a winter storm. Clean the kitchen thoroughly, throwing out perishable foods that could go bad and food that could attract pests. Set some traps along counter tops and along the walls of the kitchen if your home is especially susceptible to pests.
Count on Kelmann
There’s a great chance you won’t have an issue with your home while away. On the off chance something crazy happens, you can count on Kelmann to be quick and professional cleaning up damage caused by water and storms. We’ll get your home back to it’s pre-damaged condition and will work closely with your insurance company. Have a safe trip and keep our emergency number (414-774-3799) on hand.