How to Winterize a Home Without Heat

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It is important to winterize vacant rental homes, vacation homes or other properties that will be without heat in the winter. Doing so prevents pipes from bursting or other serious damage to your property. You can winterize your place yourself and prevent major problems from happening. You can complete most of the winterizing yourself, however assistance may be needed for large heating systems. Once you have properly winterized your home without heat, you will have peace of mind knowing it is safe from winter damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Air compressor (with appropriate fittings)
  • Antifreeze (RV type)
  • HVAC professional (if necessary)
  • Sign (Do Not Use Plumbing - Winterized Property)
  • Sign (Turn on Water Before Turning On Water Heater)
  • Furnace manual
  • Find the water supply valve to the home and turn it off by turning the supply valve to the "off" position. If there is a well for the house, turn off the breaker to the pump system of the well.

  • Turn the temperature control on a gas heater to "off" and turn off the gas valve. Turn an electric water heater off by turning the breaker off. Open a faucet or spigot on the gas or electric heater to allow air to flow in as the water is drained out.

  • Remove the water from the supply lines of the house by allowing gravity to assist, however standing water may still be present in the water lines. If there is still water in the lines, a compressor will need to be used to suck the air out of the water lines. Connect the appropriate fittings to the compressor to connect them to your plumbing system. When using the compressor, start furthest from the compressor and work your way back to it. Turn valves on and off to assist with removing the water from the system. The water supply lines of the home include the faucets and fixture shutoff valves. Drain the pressure tank if you have a well system.

  • Drain water-softener tanks, water filters and water treatment systems. This will prevent the tanks from freezing.

  • Apply RV antifreeze to toilets and other drain traps to prevent them from freezing. This antifreeze is nontoxic and is OK to use for indoors.

  • Turn off other appliances in the property such as dishwashers, laundry washer or the ice maker in the refrigerator. Unplug these devices and drain them accordingly to prevent them from freezing.

  • Turn off electrical breakers and connections to the home. Put up a sign that reminds people that the water needs to be turned on before the water heater so it does not overheat.

  • Look at your furnace system. Some furnaces have a water-supply line that needs to be drained. Some furnaces have a floor drain that drains the water into the main plumbing. If not, consult your furnace manual to locate the water-supply drain. Some furnace systems have specialized draining methods and plumbing lines and may need to be serviced by an HVAC professional.

  • Post a sign stating that the home is winterized and there is no running water or electricity.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is especially useful to winterize your home without heat when you take vacations longer than a few days. When the home is vacant and without heat, it is vulnerable to frozen or cracked plumbing pipes or other potential damages.

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