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How to De-Winterize Your Home

By Tabitha Jean Naylor

If a home is standing vacant for a long period of time many people have their homes winterized. Basically, winterizing a home means the plumbing system is prepared to withstand cold winter temperatures and freezing pipes by draining all the water from the system including the water heater. Sometimes winterization companies will add anti freeze to all the floor drains, traps, and toilets. De-winterizing your home means "charging" or making the plumbing system ready for everyday use.

The first step in de-winterizing you plumbing system is to remove all of the aerators from the faucets. This includes all kitchen sinks, vanity sinks and laundry sinks. Sometimes there will be build-up in the lines and removing the aerators allows any build-up to drain out from the system.

Next, open the supply valves under each sink. Make sure the faucet handles are all in the closed position. When you are working on the kitchen sinks you should also check the supply line to the refrigerator and freezer. If it is not connected to the unit, make sure to close the valves at the supply line.

On the hot water heater, open the supply valve. Before you open the valve at the water meter, open an exterior hose bib. This is important for two reasons; you will be able to see that the water is actually on and it relieves some of the pressure when you "charge" the line to the house.

Now it is time to open the valve at the water meter. It is important to do this gently without jerking the valve open. It is a good rule to open the valve a quarter turn every 5-10 seconds. This way, the pressure of the water won't shock the plumbing lines. If the pressure builds too quickly it can cause leaks within the system.

When you can see the water coming from the exterior hose bib then you can go into the house and check that the water heater is filling up. Normally you can hear the tank filling. You should not turn on an electric water heater until the tank is full.

Once you confirm the water heater is filling up you can begin turning the water on at each faucet. Again, you should do this slowly. Turning the water on at the faucet should purge out any sediment in the pipes and any air bubbles from the system. Let the water run for several minutes in each faucet so it flushes out the lines.

Once all the sinks are flushed you can proceed to open the valves to the toilets. One they valves are open let the toilet tanks fill completely. Once the tank is full, flush the toilet to make sure it is working properly.

After the toilets, you can turn the water on for each tub and shower in the house. Once all the plumbing fixtures are turned on and water is coming through the fixtures you can go and close the valve at the hose bib.

Once the system is turned on and charged you should do a walk around to check for any leaking. If you find any leaks it is a good idea to contact a licensed plumber to check the system. If there are no leaks then you can reinstall all of the faucet aerators and turn on the water heater once it is full. Voila! Your home plumbing system is now de-winterized. If anti freeze was added to the floor drains you should pour a gallon or so of water down each drain to out the anti-freeze. The anti freeze will be purged from the traps and toilet with the first use.

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