I recently bought a house and am now trying to winterize it. I found out that the outdoor shower has no on or off cutoff water valves, so what do I do before it starts to freeze? The previous owners just completely shut down the house, all water etc., for the winter, but we want to enjoy the house. Is it a big expensive job to add valves? i.e. cutting through the basement roof etc. co can I just cover the pipes outside with a protective cover? Thanks

  • how cold does it get there? – gbronner Dec 1 '15 at 19:29
  • what type of pipes are you working with? And can you sweat copper? – ojait Dec 1 '15 at 20:34
  • It is in Long Island NY, and it can get very cold, apparently a lot of peoples pipes froze last winter. The pipes are of a silver color, and there is only a turn on tap at each side of the shower head about 5.5 feet tall to turn off and on the hot and cold water. – Gerry Pocitos Dec 1 '15 at 20:59

If plumbing supplies an exterior shower that is subject to freezing weather then any standing water must be drained or it may break the pipes as it freezes. Just shutting the valve off will not remove the water beyond the valve. Depending on the pipe material, your plumbing skills, and how the piping is configured it would be wise to install valves on the lines that will be subject to freezing weather, but they should be inside if possible. It might be a good idea to also install a "T" connector (also inside) at a low point to the line in order to drain any standing water that would otherwise damage the pipe if frozen. You could attach a hose bib (spigot) to the "T" to make winterizing a simple job. "Ball valves" are best for the shut off valves.

  • Thank you for your reply, I have ZERO plumbing skills, and the Plumber I contacted that shuts down the house for the previous owner, told me he would have to cut into the wall of the basement and add valves to be able to shut the water off, otherwise I would have to completely shut down the water to the house like the previous owner. – Gerry Pocitos Dec 1 '15 at 21:01
  • But as I mentioned to prevent the pipes from bursting from frozen water, the water must be drained from the line. Just turning the valve off doesn't remove any standing water left in the pipes. This standing water can freeze. – ojait Dec 1 '15 at 21:43
  • When the pipes exit the house are they buried or above ground? – ojait Dec 1 '15 at 21:45
  • Yes, I would drain it, but the way it is no I cannot drain it. I know that even if the water is shut off in the house, the pipes then have to be drained. But the problem is, is that I have no option of keeping the water on in the house, and winterizing the outdoor shower, as there is no way it drain it or turn off the water supply to it if it freezes. – Gerry Pocitos Dec 1 '15 at 23:55
  • @ojait, I think your reference to "standing water left in the pipes" and "water beyond the valves" is likely to mislead the OP. If frozen, standing water in the pipe that is open ended at the shower head downstream of the shut-offs presents little danger as there is room for expansion. – Jimmy Fix-it Dec 2 '15 at 4:00

You may be able to wrap the pipes with heat tape. But the cost of electricity to keep the pipes warm all winter, would probably be more than it would cost to install proper stop and waste valves.

Since you'll want to drain the lines for winter, you'll want to install what's called a "stop and waste valve". This type of valve allows you to shut off the water, and then drain the lines right at the valve.

stop and waste ball valve

Notice the little thumb screw on the side of the valve, that allows water to be drained.

This valve will have to be installed in conditioned space, typically just before the pipe leaves the heated area.

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