Financial Matters Managing Your Vacation Rental

Vacation Rental Home Projects – Avoiding Frozen Pipes

Written by Joan Talmadge
Vacation Rental Home Projects – Avoiding Frozen Pipes
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Don’t let this happen to you.  You’ve buttoned up your summer vacation rental home for the season – or so you thought – only to get a phone call from a neighbor saying that he noticed water coming from under your front door! When frozen pipes thaw, flooding can result and cause extensive structural damage and mold problems.

For three-season homes

If you close up your rental home completely every winter, you’ll need to have your pipes drained in order to prevent them from breaking when they freeze. It’s probably best to have this done by your plumber.

For year-round homes

Even if you keep your home open throughout the year, though, be sure to drain your outside shower and all outside spigots. Keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55º when you’re not there.  Check to be sure the pipes are properly insulated, particularly in the crawl spaces near outside walls (i.e., under the kitchen sink or behind the washing machine).  For added protection, ask your plumber to wrap pipes with heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables. One more tip – open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to pipes under sinks that are near exterior walls.

In case of power loss

Power outages are fairly common on the Cape and Islands, so take measures to protect your home, especially if your heat is dependent on electricity. We’ve enrolled in a monitoring program with our fuel company in Orleans. They installed a heat sensor, which detects a temperature drop and alerts the company, who can take immediate action.

Added protection

As an extra precaution, you might hire a caretaker or home watch service to regularly check on your home, especially during cold spells. We have some listed in our Service Provider directory.

An ounce of prevention, as they say…

Please share how you have deterred or dealt with the calamity of frozen pipes in your vacation rental.

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About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan


  • We purchased a thermostat that connected to a lamp that can be seen by neighbors. When the temp dropped below 45 degrees, it triggered the lamp to turn on, a neighbor saw it and contacted us. Our furnace had given out and needed to be replaced. Small investment saved us much more than the cost of the furnace.

    • A good idea, Joyce. Sounds like you have nice neighbors! My only question is what happens if the power were to go out and the lamp could not be turned on to alert your neighbor that the temperature in your home had dropped?