Winterizing the Water System at Your Vacation Home

Property management anchorage

If you own a vacation home or are thinking of buying one, you may only end up spending a certain portion of the year there, which means you need to think about how to properly secure the space when you’re gone. Depending on the location, you may need to do what’s called a “Property Preservation Winterization,” which requires a complete shut down of the water system. Whether you hire property preservation companies or attempt to do it yourself, here’s what you can expect.

  • Shut off Water Supply
    Try and locate the main water valve (likely at the curb) and be certain that the shut off valve is in the off position. You may want to take a few photos. Next, find the water meter and look for the main interior valve, which you want to turn to the off position. Now disconnect the meter, connect a zip-tie (or something similar) to the shut off valve and complete the process by installing what’s known as a 3/4″ black pipe plug.

  • Let it Drain
    Start in the basement or lowest level of then house. Make sure that all the shut-off valves for gas lines are set to OFF throughout the entire house. You’ll need a garden hose or something similar, which you need to connect to the water heater, letting the unconnected end hang over a floor drain or outside a window; drain the water heater completely. If you use well water, drain all related holding tanks and unplug the well pump. Finally, drain all the toilet bowls and tanks (a siphon pump works, or a shop-vac).

  • Prepare to Blow Out Pipes
    Connect a pressure tester to that main valve by the water meter, and then follow along the supply pipes throughout the property, making certain that all mid-line shut off vales are open and the faucets are all closed.

  • Test Pressure
    Turn on your air compression device and set it to 35 PSI. Once pressure builds, follow the pipes through the property just like before listening for any whistling sounds, which would indicate a leak. If you find leaks, mark them with duct tape and take pictures to document the issue. Keep the air compressor connection going for a half-hour, minimum.

  • Blowing Out the Water
    Starting at the basement laundry sink, turn the faucet on and let water shoot out. Repeat this process at each faucet in every bathroom, in the kitchen, etc. If you are working for someone other than yourself, take photos of this process.

  • Antifreeze
    You will need an ample supply of antifreeze — 2 gallons or there about — which you want to pour into all toilet bowls, all tanks, all sink traps, tub traps and shower traps, and all drains (including the one inside the dishwasher).

  • Post Notice
    Put sticker/notes on all sinks, tubs, toilets, etc., notifying of the winterization. Property preservation companies recommend that the toilets should have wrap put over them as well.
    Naturally, each house is configured a bit differently, but these are the basic steps. Property preservation companies are at the ready to help you if this seems like too daunting a task. Any property preservation business or service that does property rehab should know how to do this properly. If you’re at a loss, start with lawn care services or local general contractors and they can probably point you in the right direction.
    Helpful info also found here.

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