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Winterizing Your Plumbing System

Homeowners who used to simply turn down the thermostat in a vacated house for the winter are now closing down the plumbing system because of prohibitively high energy costs. Winterizing your plumbing is a virtually cost-free alternative to frozen pipes.

  • Turn off the main shutoff valve or have the water company turn off service to the house.
  • Starting at the top floor, open all faucets, both indoors and outside.
  • When the last of the water has dripped from the taps, open the plug at the main shutoff valve if possible (you may have to contact the water company), and let it drain.
  • Turn off the power or gas to the water heater and open its drain valve.
  • To freezeproof the system, empty toilet bowls and tanks.
  • Remove the clean out plugs on all sink traps or remove the traps, if necessary.
  • Once emptied, replace them and fill with plumbing antifreeze mixed with water in the proportions specified for car in your climate.
  • You won't be able to drain tub and shower taps. Instead, add at least a full quart of antifreeze.
  • Don't put antifreeze into a dishwasher or clothes washer.
  • If your home has a basement floor drain or a main house trap, fill each with full-strength antifreeze.
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