Closing a house – Guarding against dampness, rodents, and extreme cold

To minimize dampness, encourage air circulation. Open closet, cabinet, and appliance doors; pull out drawers. Prop up chair and sofa cushions; uncover mattresses. Spread hangers on closet rods so that air can move freely. Clean bedding, towels, and clothes before storing them. In damp areas you might hang bedding rather than fold it. Leave on dehumidifiers and air conditioning only if you can arrange frequent checks of the house.

To discourage rodents and insects, toss out anything that may attract them-food, candles, soap, debris or store them in airtight metal containers with secure lids. Clean thoroughly; dirt, grease, and soap scum attract pests. Seal exterior cracks and remove tree branches near the house that could give rodents access.

Defrost and clean the refrigerator; leave its doors open. Throw old sheets or plastic tarps over furniture to protect it from dust.

If you are turning off the heating system in winter and you live where temperatures go below freezing, ask a plumber to drain the pipes. He will blow them out with air pressure, the only way to be certain no water remains in the pipes. Afterwards, to prevent the drains from freezing, fill toilet and sink drains with a solution of half car antifreeze, half water. Pour 1 gallon of the same solution into your clothes washer and another into your dishwasher. Run each unit with its water supply off. This prevents freezing and lubricates the machines. Before using either unit again, run it once with plain water.

If you have a steam-heating system, see Boilers for instructions on draining it. A hot-water system can best be protected by adding antifreeze, a job that must be done by a plumber. He will also add a backwater prevention device that stops the solution from entering the drinking-water supply.

Turn off the gas and electric power. However, if the heating system or air conditioning is to remain on, turn off only those circuits not needed to run them.