Why do you need to remove water from a home? Because your pipes can burst if water freezes in the pipes! Why exactly? Well, as water freezes, it expands. And because water supply lines already are pressurized, water that freezes can cause pipes to expand, rupture, and crack.
If you expect your property to remain vacant and unsupervised for an extended period of time, you need to winterize your home! Winterization is the process of removing water from a home’s supply by draining the home’s pipe systems and introducing antifreeze to prevent remaining water from freezing.
1. Power off your furnace.
Power off your furnace by switching off electrical power.
2. Close the main water shut-off and open all faucets.
Close your main water shut-off (usually in basement or laundry room). Then, open all interior and exterior faucets to drain water from pipes.
3. Power off and drain your water heater.
If your water heater is powered by electric or oil, turn off the power at the switch; if your water heater is gas-powered, turn off the gas valve. To drain the water heater, connect a hose to the drain at the bottom of the unit and allow the water to run into the floor drain. If there’s no floor drain, extend the hose to the exterior, or start a “bucket brigade” to a nearby laundry tub. After you drain the water heater, close the drain valve.
4. Flush, dry and treat all toilets and traps.
Flush toilets, then open tanks and sponge away all remaining water. Dip out water in the toilet bowl, then add diluted non-toxic propylene glycol anti-freeze; don’t use auto anti-freeze! Some water must remain in the toilet bowl to adequately seal the traps, which prevents sewer gas from entering the home through the drain system. When you’re finished with the toilets, pour the non-toxic solution into all the drains: basins, sinks, laundry tubs, bath tubs, and showers.
5. Protect all exposed pipes.
Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or, in cases in which water can’t be totally removed from pipes that are exposed, you can apply heat tape.
Note: If your home has a hot water heating system (e.g., baseboard or conventional radiators), don’t consider DIY unless you’re an expert. Hire a plumber!
1. Close all faucets, then open the main water valve.
While water is filling the system, stand near one sink or tub with the faucet(s) open. When water begins to flow from the cold water faucet, turn it off and leave the hot water faucet open until water flows from the hot water faucet, which indicates that the hot water heater is full; turn off the hot water faucet. Open each faucet until water flows without any air spitting out.
2. Turn on the hot water heater.
Important note regarding electric water heaters – water tank must be re-filled with water prior to restoring electrical power to the unit to prevent damage to the heating element.
3. Flush the non-toxic solution from all toilets.
Ask a friend to check your home!
In cases where your home may be unoccupied for a relatively short period (vacation), we recommend that the property be supervised to prevent any surprises. Ask a friend to visit daily to check power and heating system to help ensure that the pipes don’t freeze. The person monitoring your home should have access to utility and service company contact information in case of emergency.