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Old 10-22-2012, 02:49 AM
99 posts, read 180,159 times
Reputation: 70


We have been cautioned not to completely winterize our vacation home, because of what will happen to wood floors, for example. However, keeping it heated over the winter in Maine has become a nightmare, difficult and expensive. We are seriously considering taking a chance, facing the consequences.

We would appreciate 1) hearing personal experiences about what could happen to the house as a result of cold while we are gone, and 2) suggestions as to how to minimize problems.

We will leave the house unattended for 5 months. We will have a professional winterize the house, drain water, whatever is needed.

Thanks a lot.
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Old 10-22-2012, 06:16 AM
Location: Northern Maine
9,481 posts, read 14,283,094 times
Reputation: 8883
On very cold nights the house will be very cold. When it warms up outside, condensation will form on your interior walls. They will get wet. They can get so wet that your wallpaper peels right off. It happens. You can prevent this by keeping your inside temperature above the dew point where condensation occurs. This does not have to be as expensive as heating the whole house up to 50 degrees. Two small heaters, one in each corner room on the north side of the house can be put on timers and they will raise your inside temps just a little. It will keep the house a couple of degrees warmer and prevent most condensation.

We have power failures during the winter. It doesn't make any difference if your timers are out of sync. Just set them for 4 hours on, eight hours off and they will work when the power is on. Make sure they are not near furniture. You'll be fine. I have a timer so when I'm going to need my tractor in the morning to blow snow I plug it in. At 4 AM the block heater comes on and the tractor starts right up when I need it. It's easier on the tractor and will prolong the life of the starter.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:38 AM
99 posts, read 180,159 times
Reputation: 70
Thank you! This is very helpful!
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Old 10-24-2012, 07:26 AM
Location: Somewhere in deep in Maine
3,476 posts, read 2,532,722 times
Reputation: 4197
Years ago I had a cabin out in the woods. I rarely made the trip in the winter, and often it would get down to zero. Sometimes I made the trip in the winter, and it took a good 12 hours for the wood stove to heat up the house. I never had condensation on the walls. Maybe this was because using the wood stove in the house it never got humid enough in the house to have enough moisture there to condense inside when it got cold. Or maybe it was the fact that I had R-20 in the walls and R-30 on the roof.

So maybe before you leave you should run a dehumidifier in the house and get the humidity down as far as possible and then seal up the house.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:28 AM
Location: Northern MN
3,869 posts, read 12,498,951 times
Reputation: 3540
If your northern home is a modern one that is fairly air tight, the water vapor in the air inside your home may cause all sorts of problems. Once you leave, the temperature of interior surfaces begins to drop and the water vapor in the air can and will condense on many surfaces. Because millions of mold and mildew spores are on all of the surfaces and furniture, the condensed water provides them with the necessary water they need to begin to grow.
Open windows slightly to allow air to readily circulate through your home. Have a trusted friend or neighbor enter the house to check for signs of condensation. Within several weeks the indoor and outdoor humidity should have equalized. At that point, the windows can be closed and locked for the remainder of the winter.

Remember the air in the winter can be very dry.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:18 AM
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
10,258 posts, read 10,376,934 times
Reputation: 6929
If you hire a plumber to come pump antifreeze through all your water pipes, you will completely eliminate the problem of a frozen pipe expanding and causing a leak when it begins to flow again. It's a safer way to do it than having the pipes drained. You never know there's a low spot in a pipe below a floor until you freeze it and break the pipe.
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