winterizing by blowing out pipes?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by rick.a, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. rick.a

    rick.a New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Palmer, Massachusetts
    I am a DIY, and have to winterize a summer cottage next weekend and plan to do so by blowing the water out of the incoming lines with compressed air. I want to connect the air tank to where the inlet comes from the well pump, right under the house, apply air pressure then open each cold water valve until air is coming out and not water. The HW tank (40 gal) will be drained prior to this and then the same will be done for he HW lines. I will then put antifreeze in all traps, and in toilet tank and flush through. There is only kitchen sink, bath sink, shower, toilet and HWH. All are within 10 feet.

    Can anyone find anything wrong with this plan? I cannot find a pro plumber in this area who will do this for me at this time so must do it myself, but I don't want to screw up and have breakage. I have already pulled the pump from the pumphouse over the shallow well. And also, do you think that a 10 gal compressed air tank with 100 lbs pressure will do the job?

    thanks,
    Rick.
  2. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I did the same thing to a travel trailer a few months ago, and in the spring we will find our how well it worked! But, I am pretty confident.

    Drain the water heater, then blow out the lines by opening valves and faucets one at a time, beginning (and possibly finishing?) with the farthest away. When you are done, open all valves and the WH drain and leave them open. If you are concerned about bugs crawling in, tape a bit of cloth over the openings. But as to air, I suspect you are going to need a lot more than a 10-gallon tankful.

    And as to the traps, I use inexpensive windshield-washer fluid.
  3. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    My concern would be the source of the air. In other words, if you are using a compressor that has a reasonably large tank, 20 plus gallons, you're going to be OK. It still will take several recharging cycles. A smaller compressor tank or pancake type will not provide the volume of air you need. I blow my sprinkler lines with a 60 gallon tank and recharge the tank at least 3 times per zone. The pro lawn folks tell me that is sufficient, you don't have to get every drop of water out, but any low spots must be basically dry. If it was mine, I'd plumb in a quick connect on both the hot and cold lines.
  4. rick.a

    rick.a New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Palmer, Massachusetts
    That seems like a big volume of air. I was not planning to blow till the pipe interior was dry, but just force the water out till air came through and sputtered a little. Did you do more that this?

    rick.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Well, a sprinkler system is a tad different from a house because air is lost through all of the sprinklers. With a house line you would only need the farthest fixture open so once you get air coming out of it, you should be done.
  6. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    If the line between the air source and the farthest fixture is at the low point of the system, and if all the other lines to faucets and fixtures had time (or venting) to drain down into that line that was then blown again, I would say that should work probably as it does with a sprinkler system. But, the cottage might not be plumbed that way.

    Blowing lines until they sputter is sufficient as long as there is no low point in the system (such as even a sag greater than the diameter of the line) where any remaining water can settle and later freeze and swell with no place else to go.
  7. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Get the water heater empty and then load it up to 40 or 50 lbs pressure. Blow each tap separately. This has worked well for me for many a year.
  8. rick.a

    rick.a New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Palmer, Massachusetts
    I like this idea. But to make sure that I have it correct...I drain the HWH then charge it up with air pressure from the cold supply line to the house. (this would be a 40 gallon air pressure tank!) Then by opening the HW fawcets they would be purged but what about the cold water lines? If the intake to the WH is open should that allow the air pressure to go back to the cold lines and allow me to purge them also?

    Also, what about the pressure tank ( I have a well)? Any recommendations on being sure that water is purged from it?

    thanks,
    Rick.
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