Whether it’s a hunting cabin in the woods, a vacation cottage on the lake or a year round residence, properly winterizing a vacant home can prevent serious damage caused by frozen water lines.
Step 1: Turn off the water heater. For electric water heaters, use the circuit breaker or fuse located in the main electrical panel to shut off the power. For gas water heaters, turn the gas off using the shut off valve located on the gas line coming into the heater. Turn the heater control to the off position.
Step 2: Use the main water valve to shut the water supply off to the entire home. If there is not a main shut off, the water will need to be turned off at the water meter, outside the home. For homes with well pumps, turn the power off to the pump and drain the pressure tank.
Step 3: Open the “lowest” faucet or water valve in the home. This could be a laundry faucet in the basement, an outdoor water spigot or any other faucet in the home.
Step 4: Open all of the other faucets in the home, including the bathtub faucets.
Step 5: Disconnect and drain the washing machine supply lines.
Step 6: Flush all the toilets, holding the handle down to drain as much water from the tank as possible. Use a plunger to force water out of the toilet’s trap and down into the sewer line.
Step 7: Turn the dishwasher on for less than a minute to allow any excess water to be pumped through the lines.Turn the machine off quickly to avoid damaging the motor.
Step 8: Drain any additional water lines, such as ice maker or furnace humidifier lines.
Step 9: Once the water heater has had time to cool, attach a hose to the drain valve and drain the remaining water from the heater tank.
Step 10: Pour one cup of RV antifreeze into the back of each toilet tank.
Step 11: Pour about one quart of RV antifreeze into each toilet stool. Make sure there is enough antifreeze in the stool to completely cover the drain opening.This will prevent sewer gas from escaping back into the home.
Step 12: Pour about two cups of RV antifreeze into each sink and bath drain. Wipe away any antifreeze spills or splashes with a soft cloth.