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REMINDER: Vacant homes need to be heated through winter months

Last Updated Nov 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm MST

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As the temperatures drop ahead of the long, cold winter, the RMWB and ATCO Gas are reminding all homeowners, especially those with standing homes they cannot permanently return to, to make sure they have their gas hooked up through the winter months to help protect their home.

As of November 9 there were still 163 homes that had not been reconnected since utilities were shut off in May. The RMWB is hoping people will remind their neighbours this is an essential step before winter to prevent damages and they may need to resort to contacting individual homeowners to ensure they take the necessary precautions in time for the long winter.

Chance Herring, the Senior Manager with ATCO Gas Distribution, explained the reasons it’s so important to keep the heat on to around plus 10 C.

“Just to stop everything from freezing, is really the primary one, to ensure that everything continues to function and operate when you do plan on using the home,” he said. “In the case of a vacant property, right now, at some point in the future, presumably, you’ll have plans to use that or someone will and you want to make sure that the house is protected to make sure that there’s no long term damages to the property.”

Burst pipes can lead to flooding and other damages and the RMWB is recommending you keep your hot water tank running but on the vacation setting so it’s only heating the minimum amount of water needed to prevent freezing.

Herring also says you should check with your insurance company to see what requirements they have for someone checking on the status of your home and make sure you have a reliable house sitter who can meet those timelines if you’re not in town yourself.

“You can get a hold of your energy provider and then they’ll make arrangements to contact us to have us go out and turn the gas back on and re-light all the appliances,” said Herring.

He suggested homeowners also perform regular maintenance on all appliances, like switching furnace filters on time, to help them last longer and to keep the costs of their gas bill down.

Herring said if you have properly and completely winterized your home, meaning all water and services have been shut off, there is no need to hook up gas and heating.