Any Winterization Tips?

3 Replies

Hi folks, I'm securing a vacant property for the winter, this will be my first time winterizing a property. The gas service has been shut off and the meter removed. I'm now waiting on the city to cut off the water service any tips on draining the water from the system after the water service is turned off? 

Any other tips for a newb?



@Chris Wallace

You will need to drain any hot water tanks.  

Toilets will need to be drained and then antifreeze put into the traps to prevent the remaining water from freezing.  Similarly, you will want to pour antifreeze into the traps on all your sinks, washer drain, etc.  We use the antifreeze folks put into their RV water tanks (it's not toxic).

If your meter is in the building (basement hopefully), you should be able to take apart the joint below the meter, then open all of the faucets in the property to drain the lines.  Worse case, you may need to blow air through the lines to force the water out.

You can always hire a plumber or PM company to winterize the house for you.

You should always blow out all the water lines with a small compressor.  Water lines run up and down hill through walls and ceilings, just opening faucets will get most of the water out but its these low spots that will hold water, freeze and split the pipes. 

If you are unsure of how to do all this, much cheaper to hire a pro then open walls and ceilings to fix broken pipes down the road. 

Disclaimer: I am not a professional plumber or other contractor; this is just based on experiences with houses I have bought/owned.

Don't forget to get the water out of any appliances that might be staying in the house - dishwasher, refrigerator with icemaker, furnace, washing machine.

The dishwasher usually retains a quart or so of water in the sump - you can suck it out with a wet/dry vac, or put the RV-type antifreeze already mentioned in it.  If the fridge has water-through-the-door, it may have a small tank in the fridge to cool the water; you need to empty that tank, or move the fridge somewhere warm.

The furnace, if new enough, might have a water drain that operates even when the *heat* is running.  (If the furnace has the two PVC pipes for inlet air and exhaust, then it probably has a water drain.)  There may be a P-trap in this line - possibly inside the furnace - that you should clean out.  Usually a wet-dry vac will do the job.

The washing machine may have water in it and I'm not sure how to get it out, other than avoiding the problem by taking the machine somewhere warm.

The houses I've looked at that have been winterized by pros usually have stickers on the breaker box, toilets, water meter or main water shutoff, etc, saying "hey, this has been winterized, don't just randomly turn things back on".  If you are the only person that will be in the property, you may not need this.

Usually the gas and water companies handle this, but if they take the meters out, make sure the pipe that goes into the house has a cap or plug on it.  This keeps dirt, bugs, etc out of the pipes.

When you go to turn the water back on in the spring, you can get or make a fitting that lets you pressurize the water pipes with an air compressor.  One end has a garden hose thread and the other has a air line quick-connect or a tire valve.  Before you turn the water on, you hook that to the outside hose bibb or washing machine hookup, open the valve, and pump air into the pipes.  It should eventually come up and hold pressure; if you hear air leaking out somewhere, one of your pipes burst; you can find it and fix it before you flood the place.  (Don't do this trick with the gas pipe.)

Matt R.

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