How to Winterize a House’s Plumbing

Dropping temperatures. Frost covering the grass. Snowflakes in the air.

Cold weather and winter storms not your cup of tea? Maybe you’re a snowbird who flies south for the winter in search of sunshine and sandy beaches.

If that’s the case, you’re probably packing up your house now and getting ready to travel to your winter home. That means now is the time to winterize your house’s plumbing to prevent water damage, busted pipes, and other problems!

Read on to learn the steps you should take before you leave your house for warmer pastures.

Shut off your water. This is especially important if you live in a climate where the temperature drops below freezing during the winter months and you have to worry about frozen pipes. If the temperatures are especially cold and your water is still on, the water behind your hose bib and other pipes could freeze, expand, and cause your pipes to burst. If you’re not planning to be in the house for several months, you might as well turn off the water!

READ MORE: The Time to Find Your Shut-Off Valves is Now

Shut off your water heater. After you turn off your water, turn off your water heater. This is a simple process, whether you have a gas water heater or an electric water heater. If you have a gas heater, simply turn off the gas valve before you drain it. If your water heater is electric, you’ll have to turn off the breaker box. You can drain both types of water heaters by turning on a faucet in your house.

Drain all of your house’s water supply lines. You can drain your pipes, sinks, and other plumbing appliances by turning on the faucets once you have your main water supply shut off. To ensure that your pipes are completely free of water, you can blow on them with an air compressor.

Put antifreeze in your toilet. Yes, your toilet can freeze, too! Once your water supply is turned off and your pipes are drained, flush the toilet until it’s also out of water. Then, fill it up with antifreeze.

Don’t forget your well, if you have one. While it is unlikely that your well will freeze, given where they are located deep in the ground, you still need to do some things to winterize it. First, use foam insulation sleeves to insulate the pipes. Then, cover up the well and the pump. If the well has a jet pump on the surface above it, you should insulate that as well.

Pump your septic tank. If you live in a house with a septic system, you may want to consider getting your tank pumped before you head south for the winter – especially if it’s been three to five years since it was previously pumped. But even if it hasn’t been that long, you may want to pump it if it’s even close to full. The sewage in there can still freeze. (Here are some signs that your septic tank is full!)

If you’re a snowbird, we hope you enjoy these next few months in the sun! Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is located all over the country, so if you have a plumbing issue in your winter home, don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us a 1-877-BEN-1776.