When closing a home for the winter turn off the water, drain the pipes and pour nontoxic antifreeze in the traps of sinks, tubs and toilets. In homes with boilers or fire sprinklers, it is not always advisable to turn off the water supply, so ensure the home remains warm enough to prevent frozen plumbing. If the heat must remain on, have the furnace inspected and serviced. Additionally, have an electrician inspect the home for potential electrical problems.
Winter weather can drop the inside temperature of an unoccupied home to the point that plumbing freezes. Broken water lines can cause thousands of dollars of damage before their discovery. If other systems are not dependant on a constant water supply, turning off the water and draining the lines provides the best protection.
Servicing the furnace in homes where it must remain on for protection while the owners are away reduces the chances of a breakdown that leaves the home cold and endangers pipes. Even if the furnace is working correctly when you leave, have a trusted relative or friend check the system regularly to ensure it is providing protection while the home is unoccupied.
Electrical shorts are a major cause of fire in unoccupied homes. An electrical inspection, along with repair of any problem areas, helps reduce the risk of a catastrophe. Smoke detectors, connected to a monitoring service, provide early warning in the event of an emergency.