Winterizing your second home in France

Jos Deuling,  Thursday, 23 November 2017

materials, copper pipes 

Many owners of a second home in France prepare their house for the winter months. From autumn until spring they are rarely present, so the property is often empty during the winter period. In some areas in France, it can get icy during the winter. In this article, you will find some tips and tricks about winterizing your French holiday home. These tips can save you a lot of trouble and money.

Insulate pipes

Insulating the pipes is in itself a good idea but doesn’t make sense in an unheated house during the winter. If the temperature falls below freezing point, the insulation slows down the freezing. When it starts getting cold, insulated pipes also freeze.

Drain pipes and turn off the water

You should always drain the pipes and turn off the water. This also applies to boilers, central heating, and toilet tanks.


Is it wise to throw antifreeze in the toilet? No. Antifreeze kills the bacteria in a septic tank or cesspool. Don’t do it. Use common table salt Instead. Use about half a kilo for each toilet.
If you have a central heating that is hard to drain you may use antifreeze. Antifreeze protects to 20 degrees below zero.

Heating and frost guard heater

Turn the heater off and do not use frost guard heaters. A frost guard heater is an electric heater that turns itself on when the temperature drops below a pre-set minimum value. If you want to heat your house during your absence, this will cost you easily a few hundred euros. Check also your insurance policy if you can leave the heating on when the house is not occupied.

Ask your French neighbors to check

If you are on good terms with your neighbors, ask them to check your home now and then.

Airing against condensation and mold

In a region with a temperate climate, you should leave the windows slightly open. But only if you have a burglary alarm. And close the shutters.
If you shut your house completely while there is still warm moist air inside, you may cause condensation. For example, on the interior walls.
Empty the refrigerator and leave the door open. Put a bowl with soda in it to prevent odors and mold.

Winter storm

Protect electrical equipment against lightning during a winter storm.

Gas and electricity meters

Isolate Gas and electricity meters. You have to pay for them yourself if they freeze and break down. As with the insulation of pipes, you can only isolate them to a certain extent. But if it's really cold, isolation won’t help.
Meters are usually in a confined area where no cold air can flow so it’s more likely that isolation will succeed here.

Insurance policy

Some insurance companies set a minimum temperature. Please check your policy.

Moisture eliminators

Place moisture eliminators in the house against mold.

Clothes and bedding

Put clothes and bedding in breathable storage bags.


Place mousetraps. Mice always find a way to get in the house, and it's not nice to return in the spring and everywhere to see their "business cards".


Use old sheets to cover the furniture. Put benches and sofas on wooden blocks so that air can well underneath. If it is very cold, then the air is usually dry.

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