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Winterizing & Summerizing for Snowbirds

RVSnowbird
Explorer
Explorer
This subject comes up often so here is the result of the best reference the archives turned up. It's at: Winterizing house, 10/17/02.
cyminn wrote:
I don't worry about the heat, but if you do, there is a temp device that will either phone a number or a cheaper one that will turn on a light if the temp drops.
Myself I don't bother.
My checks:
Turn the water off at the main.
Turn the water heater down to Away or Pilot which ever yours says.
Turn the heat down to 50.
Run water thru the main drain for 10 minutes. (why? because TP will harden up in the line and can plug up.)
Put the telephone on Voice Mail only.
Stop the paper.
Stop the mail.
Put a couple of lights on meters that turn on and off.
Unplug all TV's and VCRs(why? if you live in an electrical storm area, TVs will pick up on lighting and are a cause of household fires.)
Have the friendly neighbor shovel the walk just enough to make it look lived in and also drive once on the driveway.
Mountain Jack wrote:
Howdy, Charlie;

I Feel it depends on where you Live & how Your Home is set-up. What Works for me, Might Not for You. We went south last Nov, & were gone for 7 months.

We live in a Mobile Home, out in the country, on the side of a Mountain. All our appliances are electric. Our water comes from underground Artesian Springs. We have a Septic tank. They don't deliver mail here, we have a P.O. Box.

Most of our plumbing is PVC, buried 2' in the ground. Anything above ground, i covered with pipe wrap. I put fiberglass insulation over hose bibs & put a 5 gallon plastic bucket over it. Drained all garden hoses. By our main spring, we have a 2,500 Gall holding tank. I turned the water Off there, & drained whatever piping i could. Most is Gravity Fed.

On the inside i covered All Mobiles windows with blankets & heavy towels. Covered computer, TV's, vcr's, stereo,etc. For mildew protection, i put a (Dri-Z-Air) with crystals, in sinks. I propped open Frig & Freezer doors. I turned OFF, ALL Electricity, put a hold on my internet service.

We have 1 neighbor, about a mile away, He was GoodEnough to check on the place, once in a while, & pick up our mail at Post Office. Anything important, he mailed to our Daughter, in Las Vegas. All our bills were paid from our bank account.

The vehicles we left here, i charged the Batts Fully, added distilled water, & disconnected them.

This is what Worked for Us. We had a Great Time, down South. might go again this Winter, if i get Off this computer, & get my Chores Done. LOL!!
I fyour in the area, check out;
www.avicasino.com They have a Huge Free RV Parking area & EveryBody was Friendly. It's between Needles & Laughlin.

When we Finalllllly got Home, hadn't planned on stayingaway so Long. Everything was Fine, Except some MICE had taken up SQUATters Rights. But, we cleaned it up. Our Dog & 2 Cats were with Us. My Puppy doesn't like trespassers on Her Mountain, whether they be Mice, Deer, the meter reader, or Whomever.

I, No Doubt, have forgotten to mention some things. Just not quite as Young as i Was. If you have any Questions, i can Help with, email me.
Have a Fantastic Time, this Winter. Don't Rob any Banks. Take Care. Jack......
rancelumsden wrote:
Since you're obviously using the web to access this forum, there is a huge amount of info about winterizing houses on the web.

www.pamic.org/Info/Safety%20Articles/oct00.htm
www.bre.umd.edu/html/159.html

The water supply to the dwelling should be turned off. In addition, pipes and commodes throughout the house should be drained and excess water removed and/or some type of freeze preventative introduced into the plumbing system. A qualified licensed plumber should be consulted for the best plan for your home.
If pipes are not drained, those that are subjected to direct outside temperatures should be properly insulated. Exposure to wind and cold can be minimized by scaling off open areas around the foundation of the dwelling during the colder months.
Leaving the heat on is no guarantee that it will stay on. Power interruptions occur, furnaces malfunction or run out of fuel. Low thermostat settings may not compensate for unusually cold weather that may grip your area. Your heating system should be inspected and cleaned each year before using it.
Shut off the electrical supply to appliances and lighting where practical.
Clean out cupboards and pantries so as to remove items that attract rodents and pests.
Maintenance of the exterior is important also. Be certain that the roof, guttering and downspouts, siding and windows are in good repair. Remember: autumn leaves can clog a downspout or a basement drain for the entire winter.
If the house has functional shutters, they can be closed.
Inspect trees on the property for potential problems. Dead trees and/or limbs should be removed. An ice storm can cause overhanging limbs to fall onto the house or even sag to a point of rubbing against the home and damaging the siding.
Swimming pools should be properly closed and secured for the season.
Arrange to have your driveway cleared in the event of snow or ice so emergency vehicles can gain easy entry if necessary.
If you have a central reporting fire alarm or security system, notify the appropriate office of your planned extended absence.
Regular visits to the property are your best defense. If not practical for you, then perhaps there is a neighbor whom you could trust to routinely check the home inside and out and report any problems immediately.


Anything to add?

....RVSnowbird
have you checked out the new RV.net Blogs yet?

Deceased 2/28/08 RIP
38 REPLIES 38

JaxDad
Explorer III
Explorer III
Fizz wrote:
rerod wrote:
Ive been told the frost heave could damage the foundation of a home if you turn your heat off.


Never heard of that before, ever.
I have a cottage that we don't use in Winter anymore. We shut down at the end of October and go back early April.
It has no heat all winter, never had a problem, it gets to -30C more often than not. It's been 35 yrs now.


Frost heave is a very real issue, but not one you can make a ‘blanket statement’ over.

There are so many factors involved, full sun, full shade, sun on just one area, dry soil, sand, clay, etc, etc. that can make a huge affect on the whole process.

The frost heave issue arises when there’s a constant freeze / thaw cycle with damp soil, the moisture causes expansion of the soil, the next thaw cycle causes more moisture to fill the voids and the next freeze cycle causes more expansion.

It mostly affects foundations that are more exposed to the atmosphere, like piers or shallow ‘rat walls’.

Fizz
Explorer
Explorer
My cottage sits on 12 concrete pilings that go down to bedrock 6 ft bellow grade.
When its -30 outside its also -30 inside. Everything is frozen solid and takes a full day to thaw out. It's one of the reasons why we don't go up in winter. The quickest way to heat it up is put the kettle on and let it steam away to moisten up the air. When we go home we leave the doors open while we pack up to let all the moist air out.
We retired 18 yrs ago and spend the summer there, 4-6 months so we don't miss it in winter.

rerod
Explorer
Explorer
Fizz wrote:
rerod wrote:
Ive been told the frost heave could damage the foundation of a home if you turn your heat off.


Never heard of that before, ever.
I have a cottage that we don't use in Winter anymore. We shut down at the end of October and go back early April.
It has no heat all winter, never had a problem, it gets to -30C more often than not. It's been 35 yrs now.


Thanks Fizz.
What I'm gathering, is that your basement walls are "probably" safe if your footings are below the frost line. But if your slab in a garage doesn't have foam and the soil freezes, moist soil can heave the slab. Only way to prevent that is to use insulation but insects including termites love to tunnel in foam. https://www.jlconline.com/how-to/foundations/special-report-insect-infestations-in-buried-foam_o
"Unfortunately, it could take years to field-test any proposed cures. For now, the best solution is to steer clear of below-grade foam altogether."

Any idea how cold it actually gets inside your home when its -30 outside?
12 valve ram

Fizz
Explorer
Explorer
rerod wrote:
Ive been told the frost heave could damage the foundation of a home if you turn your heat off.


Never heard of that before, ever.
I have a cottage that we don't use in Winter anymore. We shut down at the end of October and go back early April.
It has no heat all winter, never had a problem, it gets to -30C more often than not. It's been 35 yrs now.

rerod
Explorer
Explorer
baconnokie wrote:
Just one addition. Depending on where you live of course. We live in Iowa and where it gets 20 to 30 below zero and one winter we went to Calif. My son called and said we had a frozen lake in the yard. The watermeter froze and broke!! We had a mess. In contacting the rural water company where we live, they said they would shut off water and REMOVE the meter for no charge and when we returned would put it back in at no charge. That is what we will do this Winter to be safe.

New subject...........we plan on going to Victoria, Texas with a 5th wheel. Anyone stay there? We heard it's so crowded in the valley is the reason. Wanted Rockport but couldn't get any recommendations there.


Ive been dreaming about heading south from Iowa in a camper during the winter after I retire, but even after you blow out all the waterlines or design the plumbing to drain and winterize every appliance etc, Ive been told the frost heave could damage the foundation of a home if you turn your heat off.

That's were I'm at.. Designing a small retirement home/shop that I could leave unheated from November to April.
12 valve ram

bighatnohorse
Explorer II
Explorer II
BarbaraOK wrote:
bighatnohorse wrote:
Summerizing? It's 115 and 115+ outside this week in Arizona. It's hot enough that the label adhesive on the antiseptic bottle melts in the car and the label slips away.
The roof shingles would probably slide off the roof if they weren't nailed on.
I need to set and leave the air conditioning on in the house before leaving for the summer.
I'm thinking 90-degrees.
Any suggestions as to what to set the AC temp?


Why haven't you left already? We leave the mid to end of April. Since our Park Model is old, we just shut off the water, shut off the power, cover every thing, put blackout curtains in the windows to cut down on sun infiltration and go. We have someone check on it all summer, and they turn on the water and power about 3-4 days before we arrive back, usually the first of October.

We're tethered to Mayo Clinic for treatments.
2021 Arctic Fox 1150
'15 F350 6.7 diesel dually long bed
Eagle Cap Owners
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
-Yeats

BarbaraOK
Explorer
Explorer
bighatnohorse wrote:
Summerizing? It's 115 and 115+ outside this week in Arizona. It's hot enough that the label adhesive on the antiseptic bottle melts in the car and the label slips away.
The roof shingles would probably slide off the roof if they weren't nailed on.
I need to set and leave the air conditioning on in the house before leaving for the summer.
I'm thinking 90-degrees.
Any suggestions as to what to set the AC temp?


Why haven't you left already? We leave the mid to end of April. Since our Park Model is old, we just shut off the water, shut off the power, cover every thing, put blackout curtains in the windows to cut down on sun infiltration and go. We have someone check on it all summer, and they turn on the water and power about 3-4 days before we arrive back, usually the first of October.

Barb & Dave O'Keeffe - full-timing since 2006


Figment II

(2002 Alpine 36 MDDS) 🙂
2018 Ford C-Max HYBRID
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pawatt
Explorer
Explorer
bighatnohorse wrote:
Summerizing? It's 115 and 115+ outside this week in Arizona. It's hot enough that the label adhesive on the antiseptic bottle melts in the car and the label slips away.
The roof shingles would probably slide off the roof if they weren't nailed on.
I need to set and leave the air conditioning on in the house before leaving for the summer.
I'm thinking 90-degrees.
Any suggestions as to what to set the AC temp?


we do 88 in south texas
pawatt

bighatnohorse
Explorer II
Explorer II
Summerizing? It's 115 and 115+ outside this week in Arizona. It's hot enough that the label adhesive on the antiseptic bottle melts in the car and the label slips away.
The roof shingles would probably slide off the roof if they weren't nailed on.
I need to set and leave the air conditioning on in the house before leaving for the summer.
I'm thinking 90-degrees.
Any suggestions as to what to set the AC temp?
2021 Arctic Fox 1150
'15 F350 6.7 diesel dually long bed
Eagle Cap Owners
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
-Yeats

re_tired
Explorer
Explorer
jplante4 wrote:
Anyone use a device or service that alerts of problems over the phone line? I have a standby generator at the S&B (runs off natural gas so no worry about fuel), but I unplug the WiFi and the cable while I'm gone, so the normal home security stuff sold at HoD won't do.

I'm most interested about house temp. I'll be shutting off the water and draining the pipes, but plan to leave the heat on set to 50. If something happens to the heat (failed expansion tank, over temp/under pressure), I'd like to know. If the heat fails, the heating pipes would most like freeze.


I've been using a Honeywell security system at home for about 4 years. Besides the normal door, window and motion sensors, it has a smoke/fire alarm and a high/low temperature sensor. I also went with a cellular connection instead of a normal phone line.

It's remotely monitored by a security company. They can tell exactly which sensor was triggered.

The full model name is Honeywell Ademco Lynx Plus. I got it through a local security company, but I believe ADT and others sell the same system.

I don't leave a key with anyone, but I do have a front door lock that uses a keypad code. If there is a problem, I'll give a neighbor a one-time code to unlock the door.

That's my setup. So far the only time it went off was when my wife burned a bagel. That was embarrassing. I discovered if the fire/smoke sensor triggers, the security company calls both me and the fire department simultaneously. I guess every second counts.

nmcbride
Explorer
Explorer
Hey jplante4, that Freeze Alarm I linked to above (http://www.absoluteautomation.com/freeze-alarm-intermediate-model-fai/) does EXACTLY what you're looking for.

jplante4
Explorer
Explorer
Anyone use a device or service that alerts of problems over the phone line? I have a standby generator at the S&B (runs off natural gas so no worry about fuel), but I unplug the WiFi and the cable while I'm gone, so the normal home security stuff sold at HoD won't do.

I'm most interested about house temp. I'll be shutting off the water and draining the pipes, but plan to leave the heat on set to 50. If something happens to the heat (failed expansion tank, over temp/under pressure), I'd like to know. If the heat fails, the heating pipes would most like freeze.
Jerry & Jeanne
1996 Safari Sahara 3530 - 'White Tiger'
CAT 3126/Allison 6 speed/Magnum Chassis
2014 Equinox AWD / Blue Ox

krlgswanson
Explorer
Explorer
I was not a big fan of Tybee Island Ga. They had many restrictions on dogs and it seemed that parking was always having to be paid for.
Ken Swanson
2003 Winnebago Brave
2007 Jeep Liberty
2005 Honda Metropolitan

HARLYGL94
Explorer
Explorer
What are some of the best places in Florida and Arizona for the first time to the south or west in the winter somewhere that is a really reasonable in price.it's only me and my dog probably going to stay for five months. Has anyone been to Tybee Island Georgia Is that a great place to go? thank you