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Long-term Considerations

Being away for really long periods of time requires even more planning and efforts toward prevention.

After you take care of the basics (as outlined in the previous sections), think about what maintenance you might perform on an ongoing basis if you were to be home during that period of time. Do that maintenance before you leave, or arrange to have someone else do it.

Think about what will happen weather-wise while you're gone and do anything that will be needed in advance of leaving. This includes putting up storm windows, cleaning out gutters, and any other normal seasonal chores that would normally be necessary during the time period the home will be sitting unattended.

In winter months especially, when heating is discontinued for extended lengths of time, freezing pipes are a serious consideration. Your best defense against burst pipes and other damage is to turn off the main valve at the water meter, or turn off the pump (if you have a well), and open all faucets and valves to allow pipes to drain somewhat.

There will always be some residual water, especially in p-traps under sinks, in drain lines, and in toilets. Purchase a gallon or two of special non-toxic Propylene Glycol anti-freeze offered for RVs, boats, and lightly insulated cabins; that, when used full strength, protects from freezing down to 50 degrees below zero. It works extremely well, and only costs a few dollars per gallon. You can find it at most RV dealers and big automotive stores.

Propylene Glycol can also be poured into toilets and drains. In the spring, when you reestablish housekeeping, just flush well before using and you'll be all set.

Never use automotive antifreeze to prevent a home's water pipes from freezing. It's toxic and poisonous. It also disrupts septic tanks and contaminates drinking water and the environment when flushed into sewers.