House winterizing

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by frenchie, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    I just closed up my bosses' summer house: shut off water at the curb, drained all the water lines, then used my compressor to blow out any leftover water...

    Now someone's telling me that I should have taken apart all the shower mixing valves to ensure no water was trapped in them.

    Having pushed 50psi through the valves, how can water stsay trapped in there?

    Has anyone else ever heard of such a thing?

    I suspect it's BS to justify their having wanted 350$ for what took me 2 hours to do... but I'd like to be sure.
  2. winterizeing houses

    I do quite a few of them every year.....

    every time I try to take apart some of the valves,
    it seems to be breaking, corroded ect.....

    So I never take the mixing valves apart,. they seem to drain down
    after a few days....

    but it is a good idea to try to blow some water back hrough

    the shower valves just for fun.....

    if you simply leave them open for the winter
    and have all the faucets open its usually not too big a

    If you are getting 350 for the job thats about three times
    what the going rate is for hud homes....
  3. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Yeah, I was shocked when I heard the going rate

    It wound up costing my boss about 50$ to have me do it, instead. But now the local dude is trying to tell him that I didn't do it "right"...

    I hear you about the lost parts - the first thing I had to do, when I started working on their summer house last year, was track down replacement parts for half the valves in the house (which had been lost by the 350$ guys).
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Depending on your market, where the house was located and if they do winterizing on a regular basis, winterizing 1 house for $350.00 may not be to high.
  5. winterizeing houses

    well fellas I do about 100 a year

    two years ago I did 350 of them.....

    I would have loved to get 350 for each of them

    but it is not to be......

    95---125 is the going rate..... more or less...
  6. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    If you were blowing each tap separately and got beyond the mist, you did a good job. You probably have taken care of the traps.
  7. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Yup, Plumber 1, I took care of all the traps. I was just surprised & confused by this taking-apart the mixing valves bit...

    Mark - it sounds like you have heard of this practise before - is it something you do when you don't have a compressor? It makes sense to me then, since those newer pressure-regulating valves are pretty complex inside...

    Cass - yes, it is in a very high-end location, and somewhat remote (access is by ferry). But still - it's a tiny little house! 3 showers, 3 toilets, 5 sinks, washing machine, dishwasher...the hardest part was the fridge's built-in water filter lines (I got pretty wet on that one).

    Mark - you wouldn't beleive this market. $350 for that house. My employers have another, much bigger house - 6 full baths, one WC, full laundry room, 2 outdoor showers, three jacuzzis, a pool, various outdoor hose bibs, etc... that was a pretty long day. BUT... the original quote was for FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS! (from a different local plumber).

    Bear in mind, too, that the remote location isn't an issue to the guy who gave that quote, he lives there year-round.

    Just what the market will bear, I suppose (it's a 2-million $ house)...
  8. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    exurban Chicago
    how much workmans' comp, liability, and health insurance do you carry? How many thousands of dollars in tools are on your van? Did you buy a shop or just rent it? Every homeowner or jackleg plumber can do it cheaper than me. They can't do it legally, correctly or in a workmanlike fashion, but it's cheap. 2 hours work plus the drive would be at least 250-300 for me.
  9. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Kordst - I hear that! There's a good reason I work as a caretaker & fix-it guy, instead of contracting. Sorry if I offended you, it wasn't my intention.

    Having said that...

    - It took me two-three hours; it would probably take you (or them) about an hour. 2 bathrooms, one WC, an outdoor shower, and a kitchen. More trouble to go out there than to do the job, am I right? Except their shop is less than 5 minutes away, on foot.

    - My 2-3 hours included about 45 minutes of crawling around, getting to know the place. These guys are who plumbed it, about 6 months earlier.

    - The "tools in van" factor cuts both ways: I spent more time waiting for my crappy little compressor to build pressure than you (or they) would have.

    - I didn't have a problem with their wanting $350 for it. I'd expected them to quote about $200; so I was surprised, but not shocked. My relationship to the clients is different from theirs. I'm an employee, not a contractor. I'm supposed to be cheaper: if I wasn't, I'd be out of a job!

    - What did shock me was the other guy, who wanted FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS to close the other (bigger) house. It took me about 12 hours. Do you seriously think his overhead justifies that?

    ...I don't have a problem with charging what the market will bear. I was just amazed that the market will bear so much!

    p.s.: I need a license to winterize?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2006
  10. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    I just wonder how others do things. In this vacation home community where I'm at there are still alot of mobile homes and it is normal practice for most to put antifreeze/de-icer in a bowl and hold it to a faucet after opening a faucet in the yard or under a house which drains the water... the vaccum pulls the antifreeze into the plumbing .. water heaters may or may not be drained (it doesn't get THAT cold here). After that most pour antifreeze into the drains and disconnect washing machines, pour in some antifreeze then pump a little out on the spin cycle. Few spend a whole hour doing all of this...even on the big houses with 3 or 4 baths. Most would laugh at the thought of using an air compressor to blow out the lines...but I would probably think that it is done by some.
  11. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    exurban Chicago
    there is a trailer park by me that has some full time and some summer time people. The local park handyman charges 40 bucks an hour for whatever he does. I charge 90 for whatever I do. When I do work out there, such as thawing out pipes, installing fill valves, changing faucets, which is stuff he did as well, I charge a lot more to do the same thing. He actually makes more than me. The 40 bucks goes right into his pocket, whereas I have expenses associated with running a legit business. For instance, who does the homeowner turn to if he hires a handyman to winterize, who doesn't do a proper job and something freezes and breaks? If he turns it into his homeowner's insurance, they can refuse it, or pay it and raise his rates.
  12. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    ...Like I said, I understand all that.

    But some of us (handymen) aren't complete idiots, either: if I did it wrong, I'd feel obliged to fix the damage myself. I might ask my boss (the homeowner) to cover part of the materials (since it was his decision to save money by having me do it, instead of letting the pros do it), but I definitely wouldn't expect to make anything on my labor.

    And I understand all about the extra overhead (not to mention the years of training) for the licensed, legit plumbing contractor: I expected their bid to work out to about $100 an hour. I was surprised to find it was more like $200... even so, it only became an issue, to me, when they started criticizing me for not taking the valves apart.

    I should mention that I spent the first few months out here replacing shower valves that they'd lost the parts for, last year when they closed the house.

    And the other guys, quoting on the bigger house: do you understand that his quote works out to $400 dollars an hour? I just don't see how he justifies that.

    BTW, happy new year!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2007
  13. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Maybe you need to print out a copy of this topic to show your boss... because I've done a heck of alot of winterizing and think it is totally stupid to take a valve apart when there are so many other ways to protect them from freezing. Not only that, but taking them apart can damage them in the process.
  14. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades


    I guess I'm still feeling stung by Kordst's assumption that I don't do my work "correctly or in a workmanlike fashion", or I wouldn't be posting this.

    After our exchange here, I looked up "jackleg", because I'd never heard it before, and found this:
    1. Lacking skill or training; incompetent.
    2. Unscrupulous or dishonest.
    3. Makeshift; temporary.
    1. An unskilled or unscrupulous itinerant worker.
    2. A strikebreaker.

    Should I bother mentionning that I was offended? I wrote along angry rant in response, then let it go...

    But today...

    I got an e-mail from the plumbers' head guy today. They just re-opened the small house for the new owners (my boss sold it over the winter), wanted to let me know that he thought I'd done a great job. I guess he also went by the big house, looked at some of the repairs I'd done last year.

    He wanted to know how busy I was, and how much do I charge, and if I'd be interested in working for them.

    How about it, Kordst? Would you offer work to a handyman if he wasn't pretty damn good? Still think I'm a jackleg?
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