As someone whose family used to have a vacation house that remained
unoccupied for most of the year, I would say that the biggest problem we
had in hindsight is controlling dampness/humidity. As I understand it a
de-humidifier will not operate below certain temperatures (50's or above
I believe). We would drain the pipes in winter which was easy to do, and
put some pipe camper type anti-freeze in the sinks and toilet to prevent
freezing damage. This allowed the heat to be turned off in winter. These
steps worked great generally, but this did not control dampness at all,
and over time there was damage related to dampness on furniture, beams, etc.
Unfortunately, I don't have any specific suggestions as to how to
control dampness unless you keep the place heated all winter long. If
you do leave a furnace on all winter then you can run a de-humidifier
but the cost of he heating could be high....
In terms of other aspects, if this place is in the country on some land
it is good to locate a neighbor who you trust to give a key to the place
and see if they can watch the place for you. Often times someone who
might want to hunt the place will do this for you as sort of a barter
agreement. Getting someone to watch the place can be important in order
to prevent vandalism.
Rob had some good ideas and some insight on the moisture problem. I
suggest that if you can provide a regular source of heat, it only needs to
be a few degrees it should keep it dry. That could be nothing more than a
couple of light bulbs. You want to use more than one so if one burns out
the others will still be there.
Security is also a problem, depending on where it is located. It is
also a good idea to have someone check on it from time to time if possible.
Something like a tree falling on it or an invasion of some kind of animal
can always happen.
One thing I do to my cabin is drain all the pipes and hot water heater, pour
RV antifreeze into the sink traps and toilet bowl. I then turn the water off
inside the cabin cutoff, and at the meter disconnect line and hook up my air
compressor to the outside faucet and blow out the main line till nothing but
air comes through. I now don't have to worry about bursting water pipes. I
think you'll have to live with the moisture problem unless you want to spend
a ton on electricity.
Can the structure and finish stand 40 below *inside*? A log cabin is
one thing, a plastered "house" another.
Besides the good suggestions made already, other things to consider:
Well tank/pump and lines.
Dishwasher/clothes washer pumps/valves.
Heating boiler (if applicable).
Definitely fill *all* traps including toilet bowl with RV antifreeze
If you're counting on some heating system to maintain a minimum temp:
Even a neighbor watching can't protect against a power outage or
heating system failure.
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