I'd like to know how to winterize a home. Are there any special instructions other than putting in regular antifreeze in all fixtures , open valves to drain the pipes and drain the pressure and hot water tanks? And how do I drain loops in the pipes where the water is trapped in not draining thru drain valves, or the hot water tank below the drain? Thanks for any help.

  • Make sure water pipes are on the “heated” side of insulation. Here, we don’t envelope the pipes in insulation, but rather drape it over (or under) the pipes...but it only gets down to 25 degrees F for a few days each winter around here.
    – Lee Sam
    Oct 19, 2017 at 5:00
  • You could suck water out of the water supply piping with a shop vac. Open the farthest faucet to allow air in to sweep the water out. (But don't use it on the drains.) I am doubtful about using regular auto antifreeze in the drains, or the toilets. AFIK when people winterize camping trailers/RVs they use a special antifreeze having non-toxic propylene glycol as the active ingredient and which does not have all the anti-corrosion additives that are in auto antifreeze. Check with an RV online site or better yet a local dealer. Where is this house? Is it basement, pier-and-beam, or slab? Oct 19, 2017 at 10:50
  • Pier-and-beam. Is there any adapter that could be used for a shop-vac? Also how about the HW tank?
    – aofkj
    Oct 19, 2017 at 12:59
  • After the water supply to the tank is shut off, flush the toilet, then siphon out the remainder of the water in the tank and/or use a large sponge. The tank should be dry if the house interior will be below freezing. Put the right amount of antifreeze in the toilet bowl and in the traps for the lavatory, the tub, the shower. Oct 19, 2017 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


You're on the right track.

You need to remove any liquid water from any place i could damage something if frozen.

Some things I didn't hear you mention: The ice maker in the fridge, dishwasher, and the laundry washing machine; sprinkler systems in the lawn, garden hoses in storage. Paint cans and liquid chemicals should also be considered if they are made from water. Any canned or especially glass-jarred food.

Getting water out of most of those works the same way as catching the low lying loops that you mentioned.

What you need is an air compressor, and an adapter from that to a garden hose fitting. air hose to water spigot adapter

  1. Set the compressor output pressure to 20psi. 30 tops if you have a tall house.
  2. Shut off the main water inlet.
  3. Gravity Drain water as you normally would, by running the lowest bathtub with the highest faucet open.
  4. Shut off the breaker or heat source for the hot water tank. Lock it out or tag it with a note that it must not be turned on unless the tank is filled.
  5. Shut off gas entirely for that matter.
  6. Drain the hot water tank.
  7. Find the closest hose bib to the shut off valve. In many cases it's in the basement right next to it.
  8. Let the compressor pressurize, then hook it up. Keep it plugged in to power and running at all times until you're done to avoid water in the compressor tank.
  9. Open the faucet on the hose bib slowly until it's fully open, and you should hear the pipes pressurize to 20psi
  10. Then go around and use every water faucet and appliance until it's spurting dry air.
  11. Drain the hot water tank once more.

Your washing machine may need to be filled up with water in order to pump the last bit of water out it's drain hose. Pre fill some buckets for that or use a hose from a neighbor. Even then, it might retain some int he hose, so consider detaching it or laying it on the floor to drain into a towel.

The same could go for your dishwasher, but you should find out how it drains first.

For paints, and containers of liquid, bring them to the basement, and put them in the corner that's he deepest under ground, and cover them with a blanket.

You can of course skip some of this depending on your climate and tolerance for risk.

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