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Tips for Winterizing Your Plumbing Before Leaving for Winter


Are you going somewhere south until the warm weather returns to Maryland? Birds do it, because it makes total sense. Why suffer from the icy winds and burn ridiculous amounts of fuel if you could be sitting on a beach and enjoying not hearing the snow forecasts. But like most “snowbirds” you are probably worried about keeping your home safe and secure while it’s vacant. There are many things you can do to prepare for the long leave, and today our Maryland plumbing experts will talk about winterizing plumbing.

Turn off the Water Supply

If you will be gone for a while and no one will be living in the house in your absence, it makes sense to turn off the water supply. Not only will this save you water utility fees, but it will also prevent your pipes from bursting. This can be done by you or by a professional to make sure all pipes are empty and don’t have standing water that could freeze. Turning off water may not be an ideal solution for everyone, especially if you have a sprinkler system that relies on the water supply to put out a fire. Talk to a plumber if you are not sure whether this is the best option for you.

Drain All Pipes

This goes along with our first point about turning off water. Make sure that all pipes are drained by opening all faucets and flushing all toilets. Many people forget that they have outdoor faucets and other plumbing fixtures that also need to be drained. Similarly, appliances such as washers, water heaters, jet well pumps and water filtration equipment may have reservoirs filled with water. Don’t forget to open drain faucets on these as well. This draining method gets rid of the majority of the water, but a tiny bit may still remain in the pipes. At Michael Runk Plumbing and Heating, we blow pressurized air through the pipes to force the remaining water out.

Pour Antifreeze in Traps

Your plumbing system may have traps, such as toilet traps and the main house trap that work as a barrier against sewer gasses. The need to have water in them, which means it will surely freeze if the temperatures drop. Replace that water with an antifreeze liquid that is safe for plumbing. The antifreeze used in your car is not safe to use inside a home, so be careful when reading the label. You also don’t want alcohol-based antifreeze, as it will evaporate too fast.

Check Your Sump Pump

The last thing you want is to leave a home with a non-working sump pump. Have it checked out and tested before you go away, especially if it’s been sitting unused for a while. This may also be a great time to check your gutters and get them cleaned as needed. If you don’t have gutter guards installed, leaves and twigs can clog the gutters and send the water running off the side of your home.

Winterize the Pool

If you have a pool, don’t forget that it also needs some TLC before you leave for a place where you can actually enjoy a pool this time of year. If you have an in-ground pool, don’t empty it or you risk coming back to a big mess. Drain the water just below the skimmer and leave the rest. Be sure to drain the pump and water heater if you have one. Also disconnect and drain any pipes and hoses connected to the pump, heater or filter system. Blowing it out with an air compressor may be necessary to expel every bit of water.

Other Tips for Winterizing a Vacant Home:

  • Stop newspaper delivery and forward your mail
  • Make arrangements for snow removal
  • Bring the outdoor furniture inside
  • Have all of your security and alarm systems checked
  • Have your HVAC serviced and turned off or down as needed
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances
  • Clean out the fridge and pantry
  • Move valuables into a safe deposit box
  • Ask a relative or a neighbor to check on the house from time to time

Michael Runk Plumbing and Heating will be happy to help you winterize your home when it comes to the plumbing system. Give us a call or contact online to request a free estimate.

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