LESLIE: Kelly in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your winterization project?
KELLY: Well, I guess my biggest thing is I am hoping to live with my son during the winter months. And so, what I need to do to make sure my home is winterized – my pipes aren’t going to freeze and that kind of stuff when I’m gone.
TOM: So, Kelly, are you going to turn the heat off?
KELLY: I would think I would turn it down; I don’t think I’d turn it off. Here in West Virginia, easy to …
TOM: Right. Well, I’m trying to determine what level of winterization advice you need. If you’re going to turn the heat down, there are a few things that you’re going to want to do.
First of all, you’re obviously going to turn the water off to the building. You would do that at the main. The second thing that you would do is you would be sure to close off any hose bibs that go through the wall so that those pipes don’t freeze and break. You’re also going to want to add antifreeze to all of the fixtures. So you would put some in the tank of the toilet and in the bowl of the toilet and a little bit in all of the drains of the house. This is why – the reason we do this is because if you did lose heat and everything froze, at least those fixtures would not crack.
Now, you may want to look into a freeze-alert system. There are different types of monitors out there that can monitor your house for a temperature differential and if it drops below a certain temperature, actually alerts you.
Is there going to be somebody that can kind of keep an eye on your house every once in a while for you while you’re away?
KELLY: Yeah, there – I have friends that could pop in.
TOM: OK. I think it’s a real good idea for somebody to check it every once in a while. But turning the water off before you leave is going to make sure that if anything happens to those pipes and you get a burst, that the only water that’s going to leak out is what’s actually contained in the pipe; it’s not just going to run and run and run and run. You understand?
KELLY: Mm-hmm. Should I – when I close off the water at the main, should I run the water through the sink and stuff just to get out as much out of the lines as possible?
TOM: Well, certainly, you could open up all of the faucets. You know, the best way to do this is to actually have all the pipes drained.
In our part of the country, there’s a lot of folks that have homes they close up for the winter. And what they’ll do is they’ll drain all the water out of the pipes, a plumber will come in and usually blow compressed air through the plumbing system so that all the water gets out of the house. And then they completely turn the heat off for the whole season.
Now, there is a risk in doing that and that is that you’re going to have moisture that kind of builds up in the house. And you will find that sometimes, wallpaper can fall off the walls or doors can swell or that sort of thing can happen. So I do think it’s a good idea to keep the heat on at a minimum. But if you want to be super-conservative, you could have all the water drained from the pipes.
And in fact, if you’re going to take that step with a plumber, you may ask the plumber, while they’re there, if there’s a possibility that they could put in a drain valve to the plumbing system. Because, typically, what they’ll do is at the lowest part of the plumbing arrangement, they’ll tap in a new valve so that it – basically, if you open up all the faucets in the house and then open up that valve, that any water that’s in those lines will completely drain out due to gravity.
KELLY: OK. That’s real helpful. I thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kelly. Good luck with that project and enjoy the warmer months in California.
KELLY: Thank you very much.