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 Post subject: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:10 pm 
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Winterising your Maison Secondaire

If there is no central heating in the property, I would

1) Turn off the water at the meter pit, and open the cap on the drain valve to let the final dregs of water run to waste, (then there is no chance of a burst pipe your side of the meter)

2) Open all the taps and let the water run to waste

3) Flush the W/C's

4) Add a hand full of salt to all the appliances traps

5) Turn down to the lowest setting the thermostat on the ballon (there is a discussion going on about draining the ballon and it corroding on the inside owing to the metal being exposed to the air), there should be no danger of the ballon running out of water if the thermostat is set low

If the property has central heating, I would

1) Make friends with a neighbour, and ask them to look in on the property, after the power cut (you can bet your bottom dollar on there being at least one power cut in the winter months) to reset the circuit breakers if they have tripped out

2) Have the boiler serviced

3) Make sure that you have a full tank of fuel

4) Have the water in the central heating system checked for Anti-Gell, (I would work on a 50% mixture for protection)

5) If not fitted, have a frost stat fitted on an external north facing wall

6) Set all the radiator thermostats to either the frost setting or 1

7) Set the boiler to a low setting and be controlled by the thermostats (internal and external frost stat) and not the time clock

8) Carry out operations 1 to 4, in a property with no central heating

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:23 pm 
Either you can read my mind, or this is a wonderful coincidence! I was just about to ask some questions about leaving my studio empty for two weeks at Christmas.
I have checked my insurance and I am covered for up to 31 days at a time.
I have no central heating but three small electric radiators. I can leave them on the star setting and I have found a neighbour (actually the guardien/cleaner) who will hold my key and look in if there is a power cut.
I have had conflicting advice about draining all the water taps after I have turned off the main. I won't drain the ballon, but will turn the thermostat down to the lowest setting.
We are on mains drainage - I will just flush the lavatory after I have turned off the water.
The studio is very well insulated and has other studios on each side, above and below. There are wooden shutters for the French windows to the balcony and curtains inside.
I will empty and turn off my fridge and freezer and unplug TV/digibox/phone/computer.

Can anyone think of anything else I can do to safeguard the studio? Would it be worth paying an electrician to fit timers to the radiators in the bathroom and living room/kitchen. I can't buy the plug-in type because the radiators are wired in to the wall.

When I had to leave my house in the Pyrenees for about two months, due to my daughter's illness, I had an horrific electric bill after leaving all the radiators on the star setting, but it was much bigger and detached, and at about the same altitude as the studio. I would rather pay a hefty bill, though, than risk the horror of being flooded.

I could probably let it out through the mairie but as it is my permanent home I am reluctant to risk having strangers in.

I will be leaving my car at Geneva airport, with the valet parking service and I have had a full winter service carried out. They meet you at arrivals so if there is any problem starting the car they will have dealt with it!


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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:31 pm 
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Carol,

I would always say drain down, if the power goes off for any length of time, the pipes cannot freeze up and burst if there is no water in them, and I would turn your electric heaters down to the frost setting, and not bother about timers

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:39 pm 
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I expect you know this Carol - but don't forget to leave the fridge/freezer slightly ajar so it doesn't go mouldy inside.

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:31 am 
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We have to turn our water off under our insurance requirements, we do drain off water our side of the meter and leave taps open.

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:16 am 
Thanks, everyone. I have had a chat with the guardien of the block and he says he will keep my key and come in if there is any interruption of the electricity, to check that it comes back on. I feel much less anxious now I have made contact with him. I presume he is paid by the co-prop as he keeps the stairs free of snow and ice and digs out a path to the car park.
I will drain down the taps but I have had conflicting advice about emptying the ballon (hot water cylinder) after I have turned off the water - something about condensation and corrosion? Some people suggest leaving it full and turning the temperature right down to the lowest setting.
I have also been advised to put plenty of salt in the lavatory pan, after flushing it once the water is off.
I have even been told that since the studios all around mine will almost certainly be occupied I could risk leaving the electricity turned off. The only exterior wall is that onto the balcony, and the shutters/curtains do a pretty good job, as the room is never really cold in the mornings, even though I don't use any heating (other than a hot water bottle!) Of course, I use the hotplate on the cooker for about ten minutes a day and the computer probably generates a bit of heat.
Yes, I always make sure the fridge and freezer doors are propped open - unfortunately, I had to leave my freezer in England until it was brought down on the van and the carrier obviously did not know about mould - it took me an hour to clean the inside thoroughly.


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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:53 am 
Hmmmm, :-?, americanisms creeping in?


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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:00 pm 
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I have done it all except for the salt in the traps and toilet. Now fingers crossed that they dont freeze or crack............as the place will not be used till spring I am hoping that a gentle thaw will ensure there is no damage. (I can get someone to call in soon, though)


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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:06 pm 
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Pay a caretaker to do regular checks, someone who speaks French and knows how to get hold of a plumber between Christmas and New Year!
Neighbours can be great, but we don't all have reliable capable folk next door.

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:54 pm 
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LaEtoile wrote:
I have done it all except for the salt in the traps and toilet. Now fingers crossed that they dont freeze or crack............as the place will not be used till spring I am hoping that a gentle thaw will ensure there is no damage. (I can get someone to call in soon, though)


Its not the thawing that does the damage, the damage is done when it freezes, you only find out the extent of the damage when it thaws out

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An old wild fowling motto : little powder, plenty lead, kill 'em dead

English born, Living in France, Therefore European

http://www.peakeenergies.fr/

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:46 am 
I would be very grateful for an urgent reply to this question: I am about to turn off the water at the main tap and turn on all the cold taps, but do I turn on the hot taps as well, which will drain the ballon? I have set it to the lowest temperature and the water is now just barely warm. I am leaving the bathroom and living room radiators on antigel, star setting.


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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:58 am 
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Carol,

I would leave the hot taps shut, you can do no more than you have done, you have shut off the water entering the property, so if there is a burst pipe it cannot flood the property

The note below is for your and other members information only

The Ballon, should have a "dip" tube inside the ballon, for the hot water offtake, this should reach up to near the top of the ballon, otherwise you would only get cold or lukewarm water out of the ballon (hot water rises)

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Three meat and one veg

An old wild fowling motto : little powder, plenty lead, kill 'em dead

English born, Living in France, Therefore European

http://www.peakeenergies.fr/

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 Post subject: Re: Winterising your Maison Secondaire
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:20 am 
Many thanks, Peake, I knew you wouldn't let me down! Now I can leave for Geneva - the airport looks clear and so does Manchester so I don't think I will be joining the crowds sleeping on airport floors!


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