Winterizing A Home

By Robert Robillard on Uncategorized

frozen pipe

Winterizing A Vacation Home

I recently looked at a customers home that was damaged by frozen water pipes, they failed to Winterize their home properly.

This customer turned down his heat super low and went on vacation for two weeks and came back to 5′ of water in his basement.  His hardwood floors, kitchen cabinets, furniture and all of the walls 24″ up from the floor were ruined.

Closing a summer vacation home for the Winter or leaving your own home during winter for an extended period, means taking a series of steps to protect your investment.    Here’s some tips:

Winterizing A Home: Water System

  1. Shut off water systems by turning off the pump or closing the valve if on city water. Drain the pressure tank.
  2. Open all faucets.
  3. Break a union close to the valve so water will drain out clear to the shut-off valve.
  4. Drain pump and run a second or two to be sure all water is out of lines from the pump.
  5. Flush toilets and dip all water out of the flush tank.
  6. Be sure to drain flexible spray hoses in showers and sinks.
  7. Drain water softeners so water will drain back from soft water pipes and controls. Brine tank will probably not freeze.
  8. Drain water heaters.

Heating Systems

Electric heating systems

Require no maintenance other than shutting off the power to the heating units.

Hot air heating systems:

  1. Turn off burner emergency switch which is often located at the top of the stairs.
  2. Drain humidifier which is usually located on the furnace.
  3. Forced hot water and steam systems: Drain all water in the system unless the liquid contains anti-freeze. It is wise to have this type of system drained by a plumber unless you are well-informed on the procedures necessary.

Winterize your summer home as you do your winter home. To help conserve energy when the home is not occupied, install a low-heat thermostat. By doing this your home could be maintained at abut 40 F. without a freeze-up, rather than at 55 Ft. which is the lowest temperature at which most thermostats can be set.

Washer and dishwasher

Water left in hoses and internal components can cause damage when it freezes. Shut off water supply to clothes washer. Remove and drain inlet hoses. Clear water valve by setting timer for fill cycle. Press warm water button and run machine a few seconds. Drain water from drain hose. Disconnect electrical supply.

For a dishwasher, remove inlet and outlet connection to the valve. Operate valve to remove any water. Remove drain hose from the pump and drain. Disconnect electrical supply.

It is also a good idea to clean the equipment and to protect the finish with a coat of appliance polish.

Stored Items

  1. Remove food, cosmetics, or medicine containers that contain liquid that would freeze from shelves.
  2. Food in paper or plastic containers should be put in large metal containers to protect from mice or other rodents.
  3. Remove or hide articles in the house that can be sold and converted to cash such as guns, radios, TV sets, tools or other valuables.

Sewage system

  1. Force as much water as possible out of traps with a plunger.
  2. Add antifreeze to each trap so you have at least a 50% solution of ethylene – glycol and water. Sometimes fuel oil can be substituted for antifreeze.
  3. Check for traps in these locations: kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, bathtub and/or shower drains, toilets, washtubs, floor drains and maybe a sump pump.

Keep out animals

  1. Cover chimneys tightly so that raccoons cannot enter the house, or birds fall down the chimney.
  2. Stop up any places in the foundation or around the eaves where squirrels, chipmunks, mice or other small animals can enter.

Heating Systems

  • If you have a furnace, change the filter in the beginning of the fall season. Don’t worry about how dirty it is or isn’t, simply replace it with a new one.
  • Clean each of the registers in the house. This will help to promote efficiency for your heating system.
  • Now is the time to open up the area in front of the registers by moving the furniture, curtains, and loose carpeting away from them. This will allow the heated air to circulate more freely. It will also lessen the risk of fire hazards.
  • Have your chimney and its flue inspected by a professional chimney cleaner. Have him remove any accumulated creosote.Tips and Pointers to Remember


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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