Preparing for winter is when a house is prepared to become vacant. This process prepares the plumbing system and components so that they are not affected by extreme temperatures (so that the pipes do not freeze). The process must be done when a house is expected to be empty during the heating season, that is, during the winter. When finished, the house can now safely remain empty without utilities, specifically, without heating.
What is “preparing for winter” anyway? A house is properly prepared to be vacant during the winter season, when it can take out what Mother Nature offers and survive without suffering preventable damage. Homes sometimes suffer damage due to cold and stormy winters, whether or not they are prepared for winter, but proper preparation for winter will stop “preventable damage” to homes, such as broken pipes, gas leaks, and more. Preparing your home for winter means preparing it both inside and out for the cold. The following tasks don't necessarily have to be completed in order, but they should all be finished before the cold weather hits.
Ask them to “keep an eye on your home and report any unusual activity or damage it suffers” (give them your contact phone number and contact email address for the winter). If you live in the northeastern part of the country or in the upper Midwest, you know that your home may be subject to the brutal Northeast or severe winter weather. Inspectors must know how winter preparation works and be able to transmit this information to their customers. Preparing for winter protects against damage caused by broken water pipes and against heat loss due to openings in the building envelope.
While the start of the cold season will vary by region, it's a good general rule to begin the process of preparing your home for winter in early fall. If you're going to be out and about during the winter months, you should avoid plumbing problems. Assuming you don't live in a neighborhood where known thieves reside, notify your trusted neighbors that you won't be home for extended periods in winter. This will keep water flowing, preventing interior leaks and most ice dams, which generously occurred in the northeast just two winters ago.
Therefore, plumbing fixtures cannot be tested in a winter-ready home, and you may not be able to operate electrical and gas appliances either. People who have the time and financial capacity to take long vacations should also prepare their homes for winter. Basically, preparing a house for winter means that the plumbing system is prepared to withstand the cold winter temperatures and freeze the pipes by draining all the water from the system, including the water heater. If you have a summer vacation home that you don't occupy in winter, be sure to take a fall weekend to visit the house and prepare it for winter.
Whether you're closing your beach house after Labor Day or preparing your primary residence for the cold season, preparing for winter is an important process that homeowners should not neglect with respect to their property. This reduces or eliminates the risk of accidental release, which can lead to the explosions you've read about, especially in winter.