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Old 06-09-2014, 12:45 PM   #1
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Turning off water, heat in house during the winter

I'm not sure this is the place for this question, but need some guidance. We live in a farm house in rural area in SD where it can get down to -20 at times. Also snow can be a problem with our long driveway. We will be leaving for 3-4 months this winter and wonder if anyone has experience with turning off water, heat during the time you're gone. We left heat on last year in our house, but were only gone a month. If it gets really cold like last winter, we would have to have someone bring in propane and most likely driveway could be blocked. I know I have to drain water lines and use antifreeze in toilets and sinks. Is the cold hard on your appliances, furniture, drywall, plaster, etc? Does anyone have experience with shutting the whole house down? Thanks for any help!!
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:04 PM   #2
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Not exactly what you may be looking for but..... I bought a foreclosed house in Kansas City that had been vacant for two years. It did not get down to -20 but likely near 0. It had been winterized and when I got possession, I was able to get everything up and running with no troubles that I recall. I ran an ionizer for a couple days to clear out the air and there did not seem to be any issues with anything else. I think when your house is properly winterized, you won't have much to worry about. Surely this is done often.
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:27 PM   #3
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Do not forget to drain the hot water tank and the toilet tank.
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Old 06-09-2014, 03:36 PM   #4
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We are away for 6 mo. Drain all water including HWT and toilets. RV anti freeze in all drains and toilets. Leave the heat set at 50*F or as designated by the insurance company. Neighbors check the house regularly as it is req`d by our insurance company.
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Old 06-09-2014, 03:52 PM   #5
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We also leave the house in winter. Do all the stuff as mentioned above, plus place a dehumidifier in the basement that empties into a sump. Also we clear out the fridge/freezer and prop the door open. Furnace is set at 45 degrees.

Four years of operating this way and the house has shown no ill effects.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:34 PM   #6
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I would never advise turning off heat. It has a much longer effect on drywall , plaster, furniture etc. etc. Leave heat on to keep the freeze from damage. 45 to 50 would be fine
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Old 06-10-2014, 06:33 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by djbmsu View Post
I would never advise turning off heat. It has a much longer effect on drywall , plaster, furniture etc. etc. Leave heat on to keep the freeze from damage. 45 to 50 would be fine
I agree. Turning off the heat allows humidity to permeate everything that can absorb moisture and cause mildew or mold. Not much heat is required, 45/50 is adequate.
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dakota pete View Post

Does anyone have experience with shutting the whole house down?
I have installed one of these: Reliance Controls THP201 Automatic Phone Out Alarm with 3 Functions - Low Temperature Alarms - Amazon.com that uses the phone line in the house to dial my cell phone any time there's a power outage in the house (more than 5 or 30 minutes; user selectable), temperature in the house below 45 degrees, or flooding.

I've had a couple of alarms while we were away from home and it was nice to be notified independent of our neighbors' periodic inspections.

Take care.
Stu
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Old 06-11-2014, 06:48 AM   #9
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I agree with a lot of the input here, but I also noticed you're on propane. Having had a house on propane in serious snow country (northern Mi.) in the past , I get your concern. I like the idea of leaving the heat on as well, so wondering if you couldn't get something set up with the propane company?

The company I dealt with had a service that would maintain the propane level in the tank, but I had to maintain access to the tank. Seems like the propane people could call somebody (that you've contracted with?) willing to plow the driveway the day they planned on servicing the tank? Or, if you're using that much propane, the potential for a second tank to be installed?

Also, our home, with t-stat set at 45 degrees, would easily make it through a nasty winter if it were filled/topped of around Thanksgiving. We would have to refill only if we were using the place a lot. That's with a 500 gallon tank.
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:27 PM   #10
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This year we were gone for 4 months and used 1/2 tank of oil. Left heat on 45, but drained house down and put antifreeze in traps in case anything happened. The electric was off for 24 hours per the neighbors, but we had no problems. I feel that turning heat off completely could lead to mold and mildew.
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:25 PM   #11
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Until ahicks posted, I forgot about having a 1,000G propane tank, it really helps. I have it filled once a year-or just before winter pricing kicks-in. The propane dealer told me he was going to switch to a 500G tank based on my usage. I told him when he came to get the 1,000, to not set another, I would get a different supplier. The 1,000G has been there for 16 years now and he's never brought it up again.
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