You just got back from an amazing vacation and are ready to curl up next to the fireplace with your feet up. But wait, you’re forgetting an essential step. If you “winterized” your home before leaving it empty for the cold months, you will have to de-winterize when you get back.
Winterizing your home means to prepare it to be left empty for an extended period in the cold months. When winterizing your home, you will likely shut off the water supply and drain the pipes of all the water to prevent them from freezing while you’re gone. You will also have to disconnect any flexible supply tubes for toilets, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers and unplug your appliances.
As a safety precaution, you will be programming your home’s thermostats and making sure alarm systems are working. You will also cancel or forward mail services to where you will be living during the colder months, and draining the water heater and disconnecting its water pipes before you leave.
These precautions help your home remain safe and secure from external threats or extreme climate conditions.
However, now that you are back from the holidays, you have to reverse all your actions to de-winterize the house. You may have hired a professional service to winterize your home. In such a case, your best bet is to hire the same professionals to de-winterize your home and reverse the work they did systematically.
However, if a professional service is not available, it is not difficult to take on this task yourself. Gather some wrenches, channel-lock pliers, a flashlight, and the owner’s manual for your appliances and get to work.
Turn On Electrical Circuits:
You may have had most of the electrical service shut off before you left. To turn it back on, go to the main service panel and look at all the panel’s individual branch circuit breakers. Turn on the ones that have been shut off, starting with the lights.
Connect the water supply tubes and pipes:
If you disconnected the flexible supply tubes before leaving, you would need to reconnect the tubes and pipes to the appropriate valves or appliance inlets.
Start by doing all of the fixtures in each room before moving onto the next, and use the channel-lock pliers to re-attach the tubes. Make sure all the valves are turned off while working.
Restart the main water supply:
After reconnecting all the water supply tubes and pipes, turn on the main water supply valve. Test out if it works by turning on the nearest sink faucet as you slowly turn on the main water supply. This allows any trapped air to escape the pipes too.
Turn on the water heater, boiler, and water softener valves:
These appliances may have been shut off during winterization, so turn them back on after turning on the water supply. Check the valves on the pipes connected to the appliances and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for refilling them.
Turn on plumbing fixtures:
When the main water supply valve is open halfway, go to the plumbing fixtures in each part of the house and open their shutoff valve and their faucet. The water will come out in spurts after a flow of trapped air. When the water flows normally, check the fixture valves for any leaks and tighten any seeping joints.
Turn on each fixture similarly and test them as you go to make sure everything is operating properly, then turn on the main water supply to fully open.
Check exterior spigot faucets:
Freeze-proof faucets can leak after a de-winterization process. Check out all the exterior spigots to ensure they can open and close easily without leaking. If the water pressure in these is low, it may indicate a leaking split in the pipe connected to this faucet from inside the house.
To inspect these pipes, you will need to check either the basement or enter a crawlspace.
Re-check all plumbing fixtures:
As the last step in reinstating your plumbing, take a walk through the house and double-check all the plumbing fixtures and appliances. Make sure everything is working properly, and that water supply connections don’t have any leaks.
Plug in appliances:
You may have unplugged your appliances before you left your home. At this stage, you will plug all the essential appliances and lamps back into their electrical sockets.
Turn the gas on:
As a safety precaution, it is important to turn off natural gas if you leave your house for extended periods in the winter. Natural gas is flammable, and gas leaks can result in a fire or explosion.
The gas will need to be turned on from the main shutoff valve. Turn the valve on to restore gas throughout the home. In places with colder climates, the gas supply may be kept on, but the valves on individual fixtures may be closed off for safety. In such a case, you will need to turn on all the shutoff valves in each fixture to restore the gas supply.
Check the sump pump:
If your house has a sump pump for a drain-tile and sump pit system, you need to turn it back on and ensure it is working properly. If the sump pump is not kept running, molten snow and spring rains can create flooded basements. To prevent this, make sure your sump pump is operating smoothly.
Check the roof gutters:
While you were away, it is likely your roof gutters may have gotten clogged with leaves and other debris. Clear these out and check if they can carry water down and away from the house.
Restart the thermostat and program the alarm system:
You may have kept your thermostat and alarm systems wired to special settings while you were away. Reprogram them according to your preferred settings and ensure that the thermostat is adjusted for proper temperature on the water heater as well.
Now that you have completed the de-winterization process, you can start living in your home again!
The writer as been a plumber at Your1Plumber for over a decade and specializes in winter plumbing issues. Using his expertise and hands on experience he regularly contributes to the blog.