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I recently purchased a weekend house in the Hudson Valley. New to home ownership but need to prepare for the winter. I have a rough plan to ensure the pipes don't burst, especially while we are not at the house. Is my plan sensible, what else should I do?

Setup: One level house with basement. Three zone boiler with baseboard heating, two zones on main level and one in basement.

Plan:

  • Leave heat on during week at 50 deg in all three zones. This should keep all interior spaces warm enough barring a power outage.
  • Insulate all water pipes, both potable water and heating.
  • Install stop and waste valves to remove water from pipes that feed unused bathroom/sink.
  • When leaving for week shut off main line to minimize damage in event of a burst pipe.

Thanks.

  • The most common method I've seen is to drain the potable and heating water systems and then just add antifreeze to drains and toilets. Just make sure that when you reopen the house that you flush that antifreeze before pets can get to it if you have pets that like to drink from toilets (ugh). – Carey Gregory Oct 12 '16 at 1:46
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You would normally put a stop-waste valve after the main shut-off and bleed the entire house in one go. I'd bleed all of the potable water lines regardless. Standing water in pipes will still freeze and expand to the point where it can and will burst the pipes. Then when you visit your home and turn the water on, you are treated to an unexpected flood and have the joy of trying to figure out where the break is. Been there done that. One neat setup in my mothers house is there is a standard spigot teed off after the main shutoff. Makes bleeding easy and fast and adds a bonus hook up for a garden hose or quick filling of buckets.

If you plan an extended leave of absence, consider draining your water heater and turn the power/gas to it off. Make sure you fill it and bleed the entire system before you turn it back on!

  • bleeding the entire house sounds very reasonable. Is there something special I can do for the hydronic baseboard heating system? The water is just circulated so it can't really be drained, right? Thanks! – user387226 Oct 12 '16 at 0:47
  • @user387226 Yes, it can be drained. There should be drain valve(s) somewhere near where the baseboard heating pipe(s) connect to the furnace. – Carey Gregory Oct 12 '16 at 1:40

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