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The Inside Outside Guys ~ Leaving Your Home in the Cold

DETROIT, November 2, 2023 ~ Are you closing down your northern home before you head to a warmer climate for the winter?

Perhaps you are simply shutting down a summer home for the cold weather duration.

In either case, it is important to keep some things in mind that will help preserve and protect the vacated property.

First, turn the heat on. Remember, our homes are framed primarily with wood, which can swell and shrink and “move” in different conditions. Attached to that wood frame is drywall or plaster that does not shrink or swell with changing humidity and temperatures. If you turn the heat off during the winter, the entire frame can dry and shrink and freeze. This will result in the wall finishes cracking and showing “nail pops.”

Wood trims, window and door frames and cabinets can also be victimized by this drying, freezing and shrinking.

What’s the best temperature to set the thermostat? The answer is different for different homes. A well-sealed and insulated home could be set at 55 degrees, while an older, drafty, poorly insulated home might be set at 45 to minimize cost. The object is to keep the structure and its component parts from freezing.


November 5, 2023 ~ Chuck “The Inside Guy” Breidenstein and Ken “The Outside Guy” Calverly offer the knowledge and resources you need to make the home of your dreams a reality. Catch them every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon on 760 WJR.


Circulate the air. Whether using a box fan set on low or the blower motor in the forced air furnace, you want to keep air in the home moving to avoid stagnate pockets of moisture, like to you might see at a cold window covered with condensation.

Water is always a concern. Shut the main supply valve off. Drain the water supply lines by opening the faucets at the lowest level in the house, then opening all the faucets throughout the house. Flush and drain toilets. Shut off and drain the water heater. Make sure hoses are disconnected from hose bibs outside.

If you have an underground sprinkler system, make certain it has been professionally winterized.

Use an RV antifreeze in all traps, including toilets and basement floor drains.

If your main water supply comes into the house through an unheated crawl space, purchase and install closed cell pipe insulation and high-quality heat tape on the pipe.

Some homeowners will periodically use the home through the winter and so do not want to drain all the water systems. Stream Labs makes leak detection products that can monitor water use in your absence and even shut down the water supply in a leak event. These products can be integrated with cellphone apps that allow you to remotely monitor all water usage.

Place rodent baits around the home to make sure no other inhabitants thrive in your absence. Include garage spaces, attics, crawl spaces and basements. Make certain to record these locations so you can safely dispose of them upon your return to protect small children and pets. Secure foodstuffs and get rid of any perishables including items like potatoes and other vegetables.

Open cabinet doors beneath sinks to allow for the free flow of air around pipes. Do the same with shower doors, closet doors and toilet lids — keep everything open so air can move around and through it.

Security is another concern. One of the best things you can do is keep things well lit and don’t create “temptations” for thieves. Motion sensor lighting, particularly on the “blind sides” of the home can be very effective. Blinds that automatically open and close throughout the day can make the home appear occupied. Interior lighting staged to different on-off cycles on timers can also be effective.

One last consideration is to have a trusted friend check on the place for you on a weekly basis. Don’t let door hangers or newspapers pile up outside. This same person might clear the sidewalks and driveway of snow and check the furnace, refrigerator, freezer, sump pump, etc. to make sure everything is functioning.

Use a written checklist that you can reference upon your return so you can ease right back to living in the Great North.


For housing advice and more, listen to “The Inside Outside Guys” every Saturday and Sunday on 760 WJR from 10 a.m. to noon, or contact them at InsideOutsideGuys.com.