Closing and Reopening Fire Island Vacation Homes

Advice from the Pros

With the glee and giggles of delight that radiate from the homes of Fire Islander’s during the scorching summer season, is the responsibility that comes with closing up your home in the fall, and then, re-opening it again for another summer in the spring.With the insight of experts in the fields of plumbing, mechanical, and electric, Fire Island News sought advice for those dreading the rapidly approaching fall season and its associated to-do lists.“It’s essential for the homeowner to realize the significance of making sure the water heater is switched off,” said Kevin McCarthy, owner and operator of K-Mac Electric. “What often happens is when someone comes into your house to do miscellaneous work, they switch the main breaker on. If the water heater is energized with no water in it, it will burn out the element. That’s why it is important to make sure the switch is turned off.”Those at K-Mac Electric and McCarthy himself service residential and commercial buildings for upgrades, repairs and new construction as well as HVAC installs and repairs. Their top-quality workmanship has been serving the Fire Island community for many years.“Another thing that should be done is to take batteries out of your smoke detectors at the end of the summer,” said McCarthy. “And of course, it is important to ensure your main breaker is in the off position.”McCarthy said that while post-season maintenance is evidently important from an electrical perspective, the start of the season prep is a bit more important. With taking out batteries at the end of the summer, you must remember to replace smoke detector batteries every spring. Or install 10-year battery free smoke detectors, as per the new electric code.“Once the plumbers turn the water on, it is very important to check the hot water heater to make sure it is producing hot water,” said McCarthy. “If there is no hot water it should be inspected by a licensed electrician before moving in for the season.“Go through the house, check the air conditioning units, washing machines, driers … essentially all of the appliances should be inspected to ensure everything works perfectly before the busy season begins.”William Wirostek of Beach Bay Plumbing corroborated with McCarthy’s point that it is essential to work out all issues before the season begins and ends.“Giving your plumber ample time to turn on water is essential, as it gets very busy in the spring when everyone moves in,” said Wirostek.Despite the delay that may come during the busy opening and closing seasons, Wirostek said never try to fix things yourself when problems arise. Always hire a qualified licensed plumber.“It looks easy when a qualified plumber services your home, but you should never try to do the work yourself as it could make the situation worse. The date for turning on water should be a priority for homeowners.”When these plumbing essentials are put on the “back burner,” it only creates more issues and delays, according to Wirostek. He said it is appreciated by Beach Bay Plumbing when courtesy calls are made about a month in advance at the start and end of the season when service is required.“From a plumbing perspective, please don’t block areas that need to be serviced. Washing machines or appliances that have water going to them should not be blocked, as these areas need to be serviced spring and fall.”Wirostek and McCarthy can both agree all work should only be done by qualified licensed mechanics.From a mechanical perspective, Glenn Haushalter of Lighthouse Mechanical said the closing process in the fall is a bit more specific.“When homes are closed, we get all the water out of the lines and appliances first,” said Haushalter. “After all the water is out, we put anti-freeze in the toilets, dishwashers, washing machines. We also make sure all of the water is out of the solenoids for appliances.”Similar to McCarthy, Haushalter said that it is the homeowners responsibility to go through and check all of their appliances to make sure they are empty and ready to close.“Mechanically, if you have a central air conditioning system, the trap on the drain needs to be blown out, if not, the water in the trap can freeze and crack the trap, causing a leak in the spring that can go undetected until it’s too late and you have water damage.“During closing, we use a compressor generating 200 psi to blow out the water lines. This ensures a complete and correct closing.”Lighthouse Mechanical has been serving Fire Island from their Ocean Beach location since 2012. “Once it is time to re-open the house again in the spring and the water is turned back on, we make sure all appliances are up and working. Everything is put back together and ready to go.”