Winterizing a house ( in WI ) while gone in winter

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Larry Schultz, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Larry Schultz

    Larry Schultz New Member

    Dec 3, 2019
    Middleton WI
    Going to be gone Jan - March from home is southern WI. Have people coming in to water plants and check on things.
    I have a hot/cold line to kitchen - only lines I'm concerned re freezing. I have located these lines at their source - where they exit room with water heater and etc. and head towards kitchen.
    Is it possible / practical to install shutoff valves at the source and clear water out these lines? Then I can still have water to rest of house.
    BTW, these two lines have a 90 degree turn with a 'special fitting' I have not seen before - they appear to have a hex nut on them I attached a file - picture of this fitting.
    Does the above make sense? Also I have a septic - any precautions I can take with this - like having it pumped out before we leave?

    Attached Files:

  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    If you can shut the water off prior to those elbows, you can take those plugs out, and it should drain the lines above.

    Pick up some RV antifreeze (it's not toxic like automotive antifreeze) and pour it into any plumbing traps that might end up freezing in areas you might want to close off. On the toilets, first shut the water off then flush them holding the handle down to drain as much water as possible, and then sponge out any water left in the tank. Fill the bowl with the antifreeze.

    If you're going to have internet left on, you might consider a WiFi enabled thermostat that could could monitor remotely. There are similar temperature monitoring devices that could alert you. But, you may not want to keep those services active while away. Paying a security company's monitoring fee, and having a security system (could be barebones) that had a temperature alert might give peace of mind.

    Guess, it sort of depends on how often someone will be checking on the house.

    This is a situation where plumbing the house with a manifold, with individual runs and shutoffs to each room (and sometimes each device) can be handy. It would allow you to shut down more, but it would need provisions to drain having been considered, too.
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  4. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Jan 14, 2009
    The "special fitting" ell looks like the type used for installing baseboard air bleeders in hydronic heating systems. They might have been installed in your case precisely for draining the system for the winter.

    To keep the toilet an sink traps from evaporating over the dry winter months seal them over with plastic food wrap. (I've heard of people pouring a surface layer of cooking oil in the toilet bowl and down sink/tub drains to keep the traps from drying out, but I'm not crazy about that approach.)
  5. mliu

    mliu Active Member

    Feb 7, 2007
    The RV antifreeze mentioned by Jadnashua will not only prevent water from freezing in your traps, but it also will not evaporate (plain water, if not replenished periodically, will evaporate and allow sewer gases into your home). So using the RV antifreeze kills two birds with one stone.

    You can buy it pre-mixed or in concentrated form like this two pack:


    Just add water to each jug and you'll have two gallons of antifreeze.

    You can even pump this stuff into your water pipes to prevent the pipes from freezing. It may be a good idea to pump some into the two kitchen pipes you're concerned about. If you simply drain the pipes, not all the water may drain out. Even a small amount of water trapped in the pipes could cause a burst pipe. Draining the water and then pumping in the antifreeze will ensure that your pipes don't freeze.

    The active ingredient in RV antifreeze is propylene glycol which is non-toxic and is used as an ingredient in many foods. It's called RV antifreeze because RV owners pump this into their RV's potable water pipes to prevent the pipes from freezing over the winter (since simply draining the lines is not a guarantee, as I mentioned above). In spring, they simply flush out the pipes with fresh water until the water runs clear (that's why the red food coloring is added to the antifreeze).
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  6. 6t7gto

    6t7gto DIY Junior Member

    Jan 20, 2010
    Bedford, Ohio
    Make sure any outside hoses connected to spigots are disconnected.
    Friend has a similar situation as you.
    Garden hose was used to water plants while he was gone. Person assigned this task did not shut off spigot.
    Hose burst and water ran for 5 days. Resulting in a $3000.00 water/sewer bill for one month.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
    mliu likes this.
  7. mliu

    mliu Active Member

    Feb 7, 2007
    That homeowner was lucky that the person left the spigot open and that only the hose burst. In freezing climates, hose bibs are designed to shut off the water deep inside the wall of the house (within the house's thermal envelope). If you shut off the spigot but leave a hose connected, the water cannot drain out of the hose bib. If that slug of water trapped in the hose bib freezes, it can burst the pipe inside the wall.
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