Imagine returning to your house, tired after a month long vacation, you open the door and 3 three inches of water on the floor starts draining out. You find it filled with water and mold, the ceiling has fallen in, your wood flooring has warped and water has destroyed furniture everywhere. How would that make you feel?
Leaving your home empty, vacant or just unattended for a few days in the winter can be asking for a great deal of trouble. So if you are planning on traveling, visiting relatives, or you maintain a weekend place -- don't forget to take care during the cold months to avoid freezing pipes.
The home should be maintained with some heat turned on. It may only require to have the heat set at 60° to maintain the interior temps high enough to stave off frozen pipes from occurring. Thinking of Murphy's law, bad things always happen - so what if the power is knocked out for a day? Then the heating system wouldn't be able to do its job in keeping the house above freezing.
The next better solution, especially if a deep freeze is expected or if you are leaving the home unattended for several weeks, is to drain the house water lines. By turning off the pressure line outside the house, and then opening the lowest faucets to allow them to drain, you will possibly avoid thousands of dollars of damage that can be caused by frozen pipes bursting and then spewing water once they've thawed.
For that matter, an old water heater may choose to burst and leak the day after you leave (speaking of Murphy's Law). So that's an excellent argument for turning off the pressure line, draining systems or for that matter, updating and replacing your older (8-10 year old) water heater and water supply lines to your washer.
During deep freezing temperatures, even if you are home, it might warrant adding some insulation, or covers to exposed faucets. You should also turn on your pool pump to run all night, so that the moving water helps to prevent freezing. Think outside the box and think of ways to avoid a loss before it can occur.
Most insurance policies have a provision that if a home is left unattended for a longer period of time without the draining of water lines, or leaving heat on, they will exclude coverage for the subsequent water damage that occurred. And even if it is covered, there is that pesky deductible which you'll still have to incur. For more ideas, check out my Loss Prevention List