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Going south to enjoy the warmer waters of the Gulf or the Ocean in the middle of winter... that has appeal. Coming home to cool pools in the middle of your living room and basement is what we would deem undesirable!

If your heating system breaks or the power fails while you're away, the water in your plumbing system if liable to freeze and burst the pipes. When the ice thaws, you'll end up with a flood.

You homeowner's policy requires that you have someone check your home daily while you're away in the heating months for four or more consecutive days to make sure that the furnace is functioning. If it's not possible to have someone go into your home to do this, or, as an extra precaution, you should drain the entire plumbing system.

Turn off the water supply to the house, normally located at the front of the basement, then open all the taps in the house. Flush all toilets to empty the tanks.

If you're worried about the small amount of water left in the toilet bowls and sink traps, pour plumbing antifreeze into the drains and toilets.

If you have a gas hot-water heater, set it to the pilot or "vacation" setting to maintain a minimum temperature that will avoid freezing. If your water heater is electric, locate the switch labeled "Flat Rate (or Metered) Equipment" and turn it off to cut the power. Then close the valve on the cold water supply pipe above the tank and attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the pipe. Direct the hose so that it discharges to a drain and then open the valve. Air pressure created by opening a hot water tap will drain the tank.

If you have a hot water heating system, water in the radiators could freeze and lead to severe damage. In this case, definitely have your house checked while you are away.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.