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How to Properly Heat an Empty House in Wintertime

Vacation home with snow

Charlotte’s winters may be mild compared to our northern neighbors, but North Carolina homes can still suffer if they aren’t properly heated and managed during the wintertime. Vacation homes and rental properties can be at higher risk for cold-related damage if they’re not often occupied.

A little preparation and a visit from the technicians at MTB Mechanical can help assure homes are ready to ride out the coldest winter storms safely. Use our checklist to make sure your property is in good shape this winter, no matter how frequently it’s occupied.

1. Prepare Your Pipes

Frozen pipes are a major concern when the temperature drops and can lead to major expenses. To ensure your pipes don’t burst while you’re away, check that the main water valve is operational. If it’s old or not working properly, you should call your city to request a replacement.

If the property will be vacant for a while, shutting off the water supply and draining all the valves may be the safest step. Either way, make sure to insulate any pipes exposed to the outside air, such as those in the crawlspace or basement.

2. Set your thermostat appropriately.

If your home is vacant, you need to find the right middle ground on the thermostat. If it’s too cold, you increase the freeze risk. If you keep it too warm, you risk wasting money and energy. As a general rule of thumb, leave the heat on and set your thermostat between 55 and 60 degrees.

Digital thermostats are a great fit for vacant homes or vacation rentals that are temporarily used. Programmable thermostats that operate via app will allow you to turn the heat back up before you or a renter use the property. Some can even sense when a home isn’t being used and adjust themselves accordingly. 

3. Check your humidity level. 

Your humidity level should stay in the same range throughout winter. A consistent humidity level can prevent your paint from cracking, your wood from warping and protect against a deep freeze. Older homes, in particular, tend to have a harder time maintaining proper humidity.

To regulate your humidity level, insulation is key. Check for air leaks and make sure your attic spaces and doorjambs are properly sealed and insulated to prevent outside air from affecting your home’s moisture level while you’re away. You can also install a whole-home humidifier to protect your property, like the Aprilaire® 800 Steam Humidifier, now available at $125 off for MTB customers. 

Preventing any HVAC-related problems from arising at your vacation or rental home is as easy as scheduling an appointment with MTB. Have peace of mind while away from a lesser-occupied property with ongoing maintenance from MTB’s expert technicians.

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