Big Bear Real Estate Search
Steve Hirschler
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How to winterize your Big Bear Home

Winterization

Winterize your Big Bear home to prevent water in your plumbing from freezing and causing damage to the house.  If your pipes freeze but your water is turned off you could have to pay thousands of dollars to repair broken pipes and fixtures (toilets) throughout your home. If you plumbing freezes and the water is turned on you could have a much bigger problem. I’ve seen homes that needed to be completely torn down due to water and mold damage caused by frozen pipes.

In Big Bear if you leave your home vacant for any period of time in the Winter you should “Winterize” it.  If you are leaving it in the Summer it is always a good idea to at least shut the water off just in case.  Since all houses are built and plumbed a little bit differently, it is a good idea to consult with a professional plumber about how to best winterize your specific house.  Following is a general plan that should work to winterize most Big Bear homes.

To turn off the water you locate the Stop and Waste Valve which is a square rod sticking up out of the ground. It is usually outside your home between the house and your water meter box on the street. In rare instances it can be located inside the house. To turn off the water to the house and drain the water out of most of the pipes in the house all you have to do is put a pipe wrench or a stop and waste valve key on the square rod and turn it one quarter of a turn clockwise until it stops turning.

After you turn off the stop and waste valve go around the house and open any hose bibs on the exterior. Then go into the house and open up all the faucets on the sinks and showers to break the vacuum and let the water drain out of the pipes. Don’t forget to open up the diverter valve that redirects the water from the tub faucet to the shower so water doesn’t freeze in the wall behind the shower. Also, if you have a water dispenser on your fridge operate it until water stops flowing from it and you don’t hear anymore suction sound coming from it. After a few minutes, turn off all the faucets in the house and go around the outside of the house to shut off the hose bibs.

To fully winterize the house if it will be vacant for an extended period of time or if you plan to turn your heater off, you should also pour biodegradable antifreeze into all the drain traps in all sinks and tubs and also into the toilet bowls and into the back of the toilet tanks. Prior to pouring the antifreeze in the toilet bowls and tanks but AFTER you turn the water off at the stop and waste valve, flush each toilet a few times to try and get as much water as you can out of the tank and bowl.

You can leave your water heater set to “pilot” or “vacation” and that should prevent the water in the water heater from freezing.

To De-winterize your house just turn the water heater back to the desired temperature and open all the hose bibs and faucets in the house and then turn the Stop and Waste valve one quarter of a turn counterclockwise until it resists turning. Let some water flow out all of the faucets before you turn them off and that will get rid of the standing water in the pipes that is sometimes brownish or murky. Opening the faucets in the house before turning the water back on is important because it keeps air bubbles and pressure from stressing your plumbing.

Here is a Winterization checklist for you.

      1)  Turn the thermostat on your home heater to 55 degrees.

 

      2)  Turn the Stop and waste valve about a quarter of a turn clockwise until it stops turning easily.

 

      3)  Open all hose bibs on the exterior of the house

 

      4)  Open all the faucets in the house.

 

      5)  If there is a Diverter knob in the bath tub to choose whether the water comes out the tub faucet or the shower, turn it back and forth to let the water drain out of the shower pipe. Leave the control in partially open position, half way between “tub” and “Shower.”

 

      6)  Flush all the toilets to get most of the water out of them.

 

      7)  Pour a cup or two of biodegradable antifreeze into the back and the bowl of every toilet.

 

      8)  Pour a cup or two of biodegradable antifreeze into every sink, shower, and tub drain.

 

      9)  Set the control on the water heater to “pilot” or to “vacation.”

 

      10)  Go back through the house and shut all the faucets off.

 

      11)  Go outside and shut off the hose bibs.

 

    12)  Smile, you’re finished.

Here is a De-Winterization checklist

      1) Set the thermostat on the heater back up to desired temperature.

 

      2) Go through the house and open all the faucets on the sinks and bathtubs.

 

      3) Go outside and open all the hose bibs.

 

      4) With a pipe wrench (or stop and waste valve key) turn the stop and waste valve one quarter of a turn counterclockwise until it stops.

 

      5) Let the water flow for a minute or two.

 

      6) Close all the hose bibs outside the house.

 

      7) Go inside and shut off all faucets on the sinks and tubs.

 

      8) Turn the water heater back up to the desired temperature.

 

    9) Smile, You’re finished

In some cases there are multiple stop and waste valves. If there are, you should turn them all off when you leave. Sprinkler systems generally have a separate stop and waste valve. If you plan to turn the gas, electricity, or heat to the house completely off then there are a couple of additional steps you should take. Drain the hot water heater and see if there is a valve at the low point of the hot water system that will allow you to drain every last drop of water out of the hot water system. If you drain the water heater be sure to turn it off.

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