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I'm planning a trip for the month of December. I live in Ottawa, Canada where daily low temperatures range from -12°C to -6°C, falling below -21°C or exceeding 1°C only one day in ten.

What are the absolute musts that I should address before shipping off?

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I don't have an exhaustive answer, but off the top of my head, I would say don't turn off the heat entirely. You don't want frozen pipes, and refrigerators can be damaged if they are left running in freezing temps. If it were me, I'd probably leave the thermostat at about 10 C. I would also turn off the water entirely so that even if a pipe bursts, you don't end up ruining anything. Also, not sure what crime is like there, but may want to figure out how to make it look like the place is occupied. Snow accumulation could make that tricky (i.e. no tracks means no people).

  • I'd arrange for a friend to look in on the place periodically for those reasons, and to deal with damage (snowball through window, ice dams, or anything else that you wouldn't want to leave unattended all winter). – keshlam Nov 11 '14 at 1:56
  • Many thanks for the help! I think my main concern is with frozen pipes. I'll definitely drain, and leave the heat on. Do you drain the hot water tank too, along with the pipes? – jphandrigan Nov 11 '14 at 13:10
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  • set your thermostat to around 13C (55F) at the minimum
  • set up a few timers to randomly cycle a few lights indoors
  • put your outdoor lights on a timer (try to randomize these too)
  • have a neighbor shovel your driveway and walkway at least
  • put newspaper and other deliveries on hold
  • have a neighbor check in periodically (footprints in the snow are good)
  • call your local police station and ask them to drive by every so often
  • if possible, set up a couple of network cameras that you can remotely monitor
  • if possible, set up an alarm system and let your friendly neighbor know how to work it
  • These all seem like great tips. Randomizing the indoor lights is a great suggestion. Are these timers hard to set up? – jphandrigan Nov 11 '14 at 13:11
  • I haven't used a randomized timer, but have set up regular timers a few times, and they have been fairly easy to set up and use. Friends have used randomized timers, but I haven't really asked them about the process, though... I've assumed that the steps are about similar. – alt Nov 11 '14 at 18:19

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