The holidays mean travelling for many people. As a homeowner, there are things you can do to prevent potential problems in your home while you’re away. Here some tips to get you started.
Hot water tank
Turn off the water going into your hot water tank. If a leak develops while you are away it will be limited to the water already in your tank. If you’ll be gone more than a couple of days, you can turn off the hot water tank completely to save energy.
Forced air heat
We know we can save energy by turning the thermostat down when we’re away, but don’t turn it down too far. Most furnace manufacturers recommend setting it at no lower than 60 degrees to prevent damage to the furnace. This information is likely in your furnace’s operating manual if you still have it handy. If you’re unsure, check with your heating contractor to verify the lowest setting for your heater.
If the temperature will be below freezing while you’re away, pipes could freeze if your furnace goes out. Ask a neighbor, friend or family member to check on the house periodically if possible. Another option is to install a temperature alarm. The Honeywell Winter Watchman (available at home improvement stores or through an HVAC contractor) causes a lamp to light if the temperature in the home falls below a specific setting. This makes it easy for a neighbor to see that the heat is out in your home before pipes have a chance to freeze.
If you have a home security system, there is often an option that will alert your security company if your home temperature goes out of a certain range. If you don’t, there are stand-alone options that can react in a similar way without a home security system. Some internet-enabled thermostats and sensors can actually call or email your HVAC contractor directly in case of a problem. Finally, make sure you have a clean filter in the furnace before you leave. A clogged filter is the number one preventable cause of a furnace breaking down.
Boilers need to be checked even more often than furnaces. If a neighbor is not available to check the water level in the boiler a few times per week, you should consider adding an automatic water feeder to maintain the water level in your steam boiler. Here again, a temperature alarm can notify someone of a problem before any freeze damage occurs.
If you plan to be gone for extended period of time, you may consider winterizing your home more completely. Discuss this approach with your plumber or HVAC contractor first—you need someone very familiar with the process to make sure that the job is done properly.
Taking some time to consider your heating system before a trip can keep you from returning home to an unpleasant surprise. For more information about how to protect your home, contact the professionals at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been helping northeast Ohio homeowners with their heating and cooling needs since 1936.
Kim Nemecek works at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. After growing up in Cleveland, she lived in Florida for many years, working at an air conditioning company there. Kim has four grown children, two grandchildren and two spoiled dogs. She lives in Solon with her husband, Todd.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.