Get Your Plumbing Winter Ready Before You Move South

15 October 2014
 Categories: , Articles


As the weather begins to quickly change, many homeowners are making a checklist of all of the things that have to be completed before the cold winter weather sets in. This is especially true if you are a snowbird who moves to a warmer climate during winter weather.

One of the things that should be on top of the list is ensuring that your plumbing is ready for the winter, especially if no one else is going to occupy the home while you are gone. If your plumbing is not ready, you run the risk of having frozen, or burst pipes. A few simple preventive steps can ensure that this does not happen, and put your mind to ease.

Why Winterizing Is Important

Most people have been taught that water freezes at 32°F. This is partially true, since this is the point that water begins to freeze. It is not totally true because the water must be sustained at a lower temperature for a prolonged period of time before it will actually form into a solid. It has been estimated that, for your pipes to freeze, the sustained temperature would have to be somewhere around 20°F.

When the water in your pipes freeze, the ice will form a complete blockage which will increase the pressure on the pipe between the blockage and the closed faucet. The increase of this pressure over a period of time will cause the pipe to burst. State Farm estimates that the average claim filed for the water damage that is caused by frozen pipes to be approximately 15,000, but cleanup can run much more than that.

Prevention Is Key

If your house is going to sit vacant for an extended period of time during the winter, it is important that you ensure that all of your pipes are properly insulated. While you are going to attempt to remove as much water out of your plumbing system as you can, the insulation will still help to protect your pipes from freezing and splitting.

What You Need To Do

To drain the water out of your system, you are going to need some basic supplies. They are as follows:

  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Channel-Lock Pliers
  • Toilet Plunger
  • Garden Hose
  • 2 Gallons RV Antifreeze
  • Several Small Buckets Or Pails

Once you have assembled your supplies, you will begin by eliminating the water coming into your home.

  1. Turn off your water supply. If you are on municipal water, there should be a main shutoff located near the meter. If you are on a well, you will shut off the breaker that controls your well pump.
  2. Open a faucet at the highest point in your home. If you have a two story home, this will often be a faucet in the second story bathroom. If it is a single story home, you can choose a faucet in the bathroom or the kitchen.
  3. Open the lowest water valve in your home. For most homes this will be the valve at the bottom of the water heater. If it is a gas water heater, make sure that your gas is turned off prior to attempting to drain it.
  4. Prior to opening this valve with your flat head screwdriver, ensure that you are capable of draining the water from your hot water heater. This can be done by running a garden hose from the valve out of the closest door or window. Let gravity do the work for you.
  5. Once you have drained as much as you can, slide a small bowl or pan underneath the valve to catch the last little bit of water. If your waterline has a bleeder valve on it, you will want to open the bleeder which will allow any water downstream to be drained.
  6. In other areas of your home, you will want to remove the water out of your commodes. Start by turning off the water valve that allows water into your tank. Flush your commode several times to empty your tank. Once you are down to an inch or less of water, place approximately a cup of the RV antifreeze into the tank.
  7. Use your plunger to remove the majority of the water out of your commode bowl, add enough antifreeze to cover the opening in your bowl. This will keep gases from coming up through your system.
  8. Pour several cups of antifreeze down each sink drain, and down your tub drains. Do not forget the sink in your kitchen. You will also want to pour several cups of antifreeze into the drain that your washer drains into.

At this point, your home should be able to get through the winter without your returning to any nasty surprises. If you have any additional questions, or do not feel that your house is properly protected, call a local plumber. They will be glad to winterize your home for you. Visit sites like for more important plumbing information.