How to Winterize the Plumbing in a Vacant House

It can expensive and impractical to leave the heat on in a vacant home. It can be dangerous if you are not close by to check on the situation. Whether it just used for family vacations, or is one you plan to sell at some point, take these steps to avoid pipes freezing and bursting during the cold winter months. You can do this, or make life easier and hire a plumber with a trustworthy plumbing company to help get the job done right.

General Water Lines

You will first need to turn the water main “off” to start. Make sure you have reserved enough water to use as a mix for the antifreeze that needs added to the system later. Go to each faucet in the home and open the hot and cold water full to help clear the lines of water. This needs to be done with showers and tubs as well.

Sinks, Tubs and Showers

Use pressurized air to blow into the faucet-end to completely clear water from the lines. Use antifreeze that is rated for RV use. Vehicle antifreeze is toxic. Mix the product with water as instructed. Pour a quarter of the antifreeze solution down the drains for each sink, shower and tub. This will help keep the trap from freezing and bursting in the winter cold.


Flush the toilets to clear the water out of the lines. Take old rags and place them in the bottom of the bowls to soak up any remaining water. Throw the rags away. Pour at least one full-gallon of antifreeze mixture into the bottom of each toilet bowl. Flush the toilet and allow the mixture to run down to the toilet trap. This will keep these traps from freezing and breaking.

Water Heaters

Use a hot water rated hose to drain the water heater completely. This appliance will be fine and the elements protected by not being immersed in water. You can count this as your annual sediment clean-out for the water heater.


If you have a boiler to heat the home, it needs to be emptied. Drain it the same way you did the water heater. Empty the water into the basement drain. Pour about 1-quart of antifreeze mixture down this drain when you are finished draining the boiler. It will be safe from a winter freeze.

Main House Trap and Drains

You need to access the main house trap and add at least 2-gallons of antifreeze mixture. Make sure you pour 1-quart of antifreeze down all drains that are in the home. Make sure the laundry room is not forgotten. Siphon water from the drum of the washing machine, if needed and pour 1-quart of antifreeze mix down the drain located in this vicinity.

Contact a local expert plumbing service to help you get all the plumbing winterized this year. You can learn more information at Express Rooter.