Can pipes freeze in a Winterized house

12 Replies

I just bought a 2-Flat in very cold Chicago weather.  It is winterized so the furnace(Heat) is not on.  Is there any chance of freezing if it is winterized?  I was thinking of starting furnace with my Contractor this Saturday

Thanks for input.

If it was winterized properly you will not have any problems.  The whole point of the winterization process is to prevent pipes freezing during extreme cold.

If it has hot water boiler heating we found some 3/4" laterals & drain stubs did freeze & that became a nightmare. When we rehabbed it we went with NG forced air HVAC to eliminate the old system & having to trace pipes in walls/ceilings.

We have also found the older thin metal p-traps frozen so we drain or rip them out.

Our problem here is water meters freezing & that's a major issue if they burst.

However, we currently have a SFH 'winterized' but we do have the heat on (55deg) & our last NG bill was $55.96 & that's cheap insurance !!!! 

Will it be OK to turn on the furnace even though the plumbing pipes are winterized? I heard that they put antifreeze in plumbing pipes but theree is no antifreeze in heating ductwork. Please respond as I just got the possession to this house 2 days ago and it seems winterized with tapes on all faucets etc.

Nobody can guarantee that your pipes won't freeze or haven't already frozen.  If the winterization was done correctly and thoroughly, you won't have a problem.  But if the lines weren't thoroughly flushed there could still be water in them. Can also be water in drain traps.  

If you have possession of the property, get the heat on, then get the water on and start checking for leaks.  It was probably winterized several times in the course of being sold.  Having something go wrong somewhere along the line is a real possibility.  So, get it warm, get the water on and start finding and fixing any problems.

I'm a little confused. Is it hot water heat or forced air with duct work? If it's forced air your heating system has no water in it to freeze. If it's hot water heat the hopefully they were able to drain all the water out.

Your regular plumbing was hopefully drained fully also.

As  Jon said. Get the heat on and go around and check every pipe you can.

I would recommend air pressure test on all water lines prior to filling with water. You can end up with a small leak that is hard to detect that causes $1000s in damages before it's discovered. 

No water in a hot air furnace so nothing to freeze there. P-traps can freeze but most of those are visible and can be visually inspected. 

The reason why pipes burst is because when water freezes it expands and that can cause cracks.  If there is no water in the pipes then the pipes can be cold but air doesn't expand the way water does.

It all depends if it were winterized correctly . Water can sit in low spots in pipes .  Water trapped in ball valves split . Went in a house where it was winterized , but they didnt turn the water off at  the street , it split at the valve .   

I winterize a few houses for customers who winter in Florida , first I shut the water down at the street , then we drain everything , kill the electric to the water heater , tape over the breaker , blow the house out with a 125 cfm diesel compressor , then we have a 55 gallon drum of RV antifreexe and we use a air diaphram pump and fill the pipes with the pink stuff. Then we wire tie the main valve shut .  Its not a cheap service , but havent ever had a problem .

Dishwashers can be problematic, since there can be water in the drain area and they are pretty much plastic pipes.

If water was drained from all supply lines and the water heater and toilet tanks, then you only have drain lines to worry about.  For the drain lines, the traps are where water is held, so as others have posted those are filled with RV antifreeze; don't use regular automotive radiator antifreeze.  Some of those drains with traps are tubs, sinks, the toilet bowl itself, floor drains, shower pan drains.  If there is a sump pump the sump might hold sitting water.  Condensate drains from central AC might also have water in them.  Sometimes the tubs with whirlpool jets need special attention too.

Thanks all for valuable information.

Drain all water supply lines. Disconnect dishwasher and refrigerator ice maker lines and drain. Shut off main water supply valve. Pour Pink RV antifreeze in all toliets, drains, sinks, washers; dishwashers; tubs etc. Leave and isolate with shut off valves the hot water heater on low (vacation mode) or drain and shut off. You don't need to do anything with the furnace other than if you still feel very uncomfortable or worried about freezing; leave it on and put the thermostat low around 40 - 45 F. It will not be that much money for peace of mind if that's what you need in addition to the other items mentioned above.

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