Owning a vacation property, such as a cabin in the woods, is great fun, until the pipes freeze and burst in the winter. Luckily, there are a number of steps that homeowners can take to prepare their plumbing, heating and gas for those long months of winter. These tips will help you preserve your plumbing and prevent freezing temperatures from doing major damage to your property in your absence.
- Turn off the water supply to the house. The main water valve is usually found at the water meter around the home’s exterior, or in the basement.
- After turning off the water supply, drain the pipes of water. Turn on all the faucets, starting with the lowest faucet in the house. This faucet is often found in the basement, or around the home’s exterior, connected to a hose. Run all the faucets until no more water will come out.
- Pour RV antifreeze down the drains and into the toilets, to prevent any standing water left in the pipes from freezing.
- After pouring antifreeze into the drains, cap them. Cover the toilet with saran wrap. This prevents sewer gas from entering the house through the drains in your absence.
- Shut off the gas hot water heater. This is usually done by turning a shut off valve found near the bottom of the water heater, close to the drain. Many hot water heaters come with a sticker on the side of the heater that can provide further instructions if they’re needed.
- Turn off the water supply to the hot water heater by closing the water supply valve found at the top of the water heater.
- Drain the water heater by attaching a hose to the drain valve and opening up the drain.
- If the property has a pool, drain that as well. This is a multi-step process that often involves renting a submersible sump pump and draining the water into a clean-out. However, if you’ve never done this before, speak with a pool specialist before attempting to do this on your own.
- Turn down the thermostat to a temperature just high enough that it will prevent things from inside the home from freezing. In general, 50 or 55 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a good temperature.
- Prepare for the home to reach freezing temperatures, even though you are leaving the heater on to a low temperature. Sometimes heaters fail. To make these preparations, toss out or give away liquids that you may have in the kitchen and in other parts of the house.
As a side note, these suggestions can be applied to any property sitting vacant for an extended period of time in the winter. Whether you’re leaving a house to sit empty for the season or moving out and selling the property, these tips will protect your investment.
Residents of the Pittsburgh area seeking more tips to drain the water from their pipes can contact Terry’s Plumbing. We’re always happy to help our customers!