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(MCT)—To prevent a storm from causing a major headache at a vacation home, keep a few things in mind besides locking the doors and stopping the mail for the winter.

“Turn off all water and blow out (water lines) with an air compressor if you are turning off heat in a climate that freezes,” says plumber Tim Walker of River Edge. “Put (non-toxic) antifreeze in all sink, tub/shower and washing-machine traps, and remove water from toilet tanks and bowls and add (that same) antifreeze.”

Or, “just lower the heat to 45 degrees and install a special thermostat in the house that will call your (main) home or cell phone if the temperature goes below 45,” says plumber Rob Wickersheim of Hackensack. “This way you have some time to get there and fix the problem before any real damage occurs.”

Hire a local contractor to keep on eye on the vacation property, particularly during/after storms.

Keep a couple sheets of half-inch plywood on hand for emergency cover-ups before/after storms. Have a manual saw, hammer and 2-inch common nails on hand, as power tools are worthless during an outage.

Be aware that oil deliveries can force air out of the storage tank and into the fuel line. When the furnace comes on and calls for fuel, it will not receive enough due to the air bubble and will shut down. This could lead to costly flooding should pipes burst due to lower temperatures.

©2011 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)