Keep Out the Cold: Simple Steps to Winterize a Vacant House
Winterizing a vacant house can be a little intimidating, but with the right steps it can be done quite easily. These steps involve turning off the water, turning down the thermostat, insulating the pipes, draining the pipes, blowing out the pipes, turning off breakers, uninsulating the heating system, and weatherizing the windows and doors. Here are the details of each step:
Turn Off the Water
The first and most important step to winterize a vacant house is to shut off the water at the main valve, which should be located outside. If you have a well, you can turn it off by turning the breaker to the pump off. You do not want to leave the water lines open when there will not be anyone in the house to repair any resulting damage from a burst pipe.
Turn the Thermostat Down
Once the water is shut off, the thermostat should be lowered to approximately 60 degrees. Turning it completely off can often cause pipes to freeze and then break.
Insulating the pipes is a great way to stop any burst pipe emergency situations. You can easily install the insulation by simply slipping it around the pipe and you’re done.
Drain the Water From Pipes & Blow Out Pipes
Once you have the pipes insulated, it’s a good idea to drain the water from the pipes by turning on the two faucets closest to where the water comes into the house and the one furthest from where the water comes in. This helps to drain the water from the pipes, and then by using fittings and an air compressor, you can then blow the rest of the water out of the pipes. This should be done, starting from the furthest pipe and finishing with the nearest.
Other Things to Drain
It is also important to drain all other systems that use water such as water softeners, water treatment, filters, washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and toilets. To drain a toilet, shut off the water supply and use a plunger to push out any water that is left in there. Then, add RV antifreeze to the toilets, the bottom of the dishwasher, and the bottom of the washing machine.
Turn off Breakers
Next, it’s advisable to turn off all electricity that has been used by appliances, in order to minimize expenses. However, when you return home make sure that the water heater and other appliances are filled before turning the electricity back on.
Unusual Heating Systems
If you have a boiler, radiant floor heat, heat pump, condensation furnace or air conditioner, you should have an HVAC specialist winterize them for you. These systems can usually have water in them and may require some more complicated winterizing steps than other systems.
Weatherize Windows and Doors
Before leaving your house for the winter, you should use caulk around the edges of windows and door jams to seal any small cracks. Also, add weather stripping around the windows and doors that open and shut, as this will help keep the cold out and the heat in.
Winterizing a vacant house takes a little time, but the effort and money put towards it will pay off in the end. If you take the necessary steps before leaving your house, you should be able to return to it in due time, safe and sound.