drdiy

Winterizing Plumbing

In Hot Water Tanks, Plumbing, Uncategorized on January 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Q:

I have many questions and concerns regarding winterizing my home while I am away for the winter months. I hope you can help shed some light on this for me.

I was reading your blog and you said that even if I keep the heat on (which I definitely planned on keeping it at 60 degrees) you recommend shutting the water off at the meter and add antifreeze to all the toilet bowls, tanks and all the drains and sink traps. What if I turn the water off at the meter and after flushing all the toilets (but without draining the other lines) and just add anti-freeze to the toilet bowls, tanks and all the drains/traps, will this be okay? In other words, is draining the complete system necessary? Is leaving all the faucets open crucial? Pipes could freeze and burst, right? You state in your blog that damage would be minimal.

I was also going to turn my hot water tank to the “vacation” setting. My concern is, will I be accidentally turning off the pilot light too? Another thing, when I turn the water off at the meter, will my water-powered back up sump pump still be working?

When I get back in town all I would have to do is just turn the water back on at the meter, right?

What if I don’t shut the water off at the meter, but instead just shut off the supply lines under the sinks, toilets and the spigots for the washing machine? What bad things could this lead to if something were to happen?

I bought Uni-Guard Propylene Glycol, alcohol based winterizer. It’s a non-toxic anti-freeze protection. It was $2.50 gallon at Home Depot. It says it is ideal for winterizing boats, pools, water systems and plumbing systems. But then I noticed the alcohol is ethyl alcohol. Did I buy the right stuff? Will the alcohol mean evaporation or will it affect the seals? I will also use cellophane to cover the toilet bowls as you suggested. Is it all right to use this in the kitchen sink as well as the garbage disposal?

If all of this isn’t freaking me out enough, I spoke to a friend of mine, and told him I was shutting off the water at the meter and doing the antifreeze thing and he was telling me that there is a possibility of evaporation occurring so that rats and other creepy things can crawl up into the toilets and sinks. He said it happened to him, although he lives in Florida. So I’m now wondering and worrying.

 

A:

The Uni-Guard Propylene Glycol is the correct antifreeze and I highly recommend doing this.

When you turn the water off at the meter, I would open all the faucets, including any in the basement. That will prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting since there shouldn’t be any water in them. If the faucets are closed it’s like blocking one end of a straw with your finger and the drink stays in the straw until you lift your finger. Opening all the faucets allows the pipes to drain.

I recommend shutting the water off at the meter, and not just shutting off the supply lines and spigot. You be a lot more prone for burst pipes doing it that way.

What I meant by “Damage would be minimal” is if you don’t drain the pipes completely they could still freeze and burst, but it wouldn’t flood the house until you turned the water back on at the meter and then you might find leaks.

As for your sump pump, if the water stays on to the sump pump when your water is shut off at the meter, that’s great. If not, I don’t suspect it would be a problem since the ground is usually frozen at that time of year and your sump pump shouldn’t be coming on (unless you are in a very high water table area). You should know that answer to that one. Does your pump come on during the winter months? If so, and you plan on leaving town for an extended period of time every winter, install a battery operated back up pump. Another alternative have a plumber install by-pass plumbing directly to the back up pump so you can turn all the water off in the house but leave water on to the back up sump pump.

The hot water tank dial should be turned counterclockwise. The opposite of where the dial says “Very Hot” or “High”. Doing so will NOT turn off the pilot light. That is a different valve, which is usually on the top of the control. The dial you will be turning is on the front of the control.

Stop worrying and enjoy your vacation.

 Invite your friends and family to sign up for my blog too!

LG Headshot 2

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: