The fall season for many people mean it’s time to start thinking about closing up your seasonal home. Summer is approaching the end, kids are back to school, and weekends at the beach or the lake are coming to an end for this year. It’s time to put away the toys to prevent them from being damaged in the cold months that are coming.
Many of these seasonal homes have been so since they were built and were designed as seasonal homes. These homes featured plumbing systems that pitch back to a drain to allow the pipes to be drained, and any low points have drain plugs or drain valves. Some of these were the result of refinements to the design through the years after an occasional burst pipe in the winter. For many that have had the seasonal home for years they know the drill and have a developed routine they follow. Even then there are occasional mishaps resulting in freeze damage being found in the spring reopening. Most have no problems.
For those who are new owners of a seasonal home the best thing you can do is if at all possible have the former owners show you the drill, maybe even make arrangements to have them help you in the first season of use. If that’s not possible maybe a neighbor can be enlisted to help.
Basically what you have to do is shut off the water heater, shut off the water, drain the water heater, open all the taps, flush the toilets and hold the lever to allow the toilet tank to completely drain. You then have to go below the home and open whatever drains or plugs were installed at low points in the pipes that may hold water. Once the water heater and supply lines have been drained, leave the drains open, It’s time to go back in and deal with the remaining water. A large sponge or, wet/dry vacuum can be used to remove the remaining water in the toilet tank and bowl then a non-toxic antifreeze should be poured into the tank and bowl to prevent any remaining water from freezing. On each fixture such as a sink, shower, or, bathtub there is a trap on the drain that will have water in it. Often people just remove them for the winter, take them apart and get the water out or, remove a drain plug in the trap to get the water out. You can also just pour non-toxic anti freeze down the drain in sufficient quantity to treat the water in the trap so it will not freeze. The non- toxic anti freeze is sold under a variety of brand names and is pink in color. You must never use automotive antifreeze for this purpose as it is highly toxic and not allowed to go down drains. Even though the anti-freeze is non-toxic it is only used on drains and in the toilet tank. Do not use it on any supply side pipes as the taste will linger and it is not pleasant. With luck you will get the drill right the first season and not suffer and freeze damage over the winter. If you do suffer any freeze damage, think about what happened, and why so that you can modify your winterization process in future years to avoid damage in the future years. Rarely does a home that has been used as a seasonal home for many years require extreme measures such as blowing out the pipes with compressed air.
For some people that purchase newer seasonal homes on a grander scale they may not have it as simple as the seasonal homes I discussed above. When you get into the more complex homes that some people are building as seasonal homes they rival a year round home in conveniences. These homes will prove to be a lot more difficult to winterize successfully and will probably require the assistance of a plumber and a large air compressor to blow the water out of the lines. Even then you may not be able to winterize the home without freeze damage occurring. You may want to consider running heat through the winter if the home was not built with winterizing in mind.