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Old 12-01-2008, 06:36 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
6,175 posts, read 4,705,895 times
Reputation: 3544
Listen to CornerGuy. We have had our Eastport house shut down several times. The plumbing company we used first drained out all the lines. The last time he did it, the work was poorly done and we had leaks over the foyer ceiling both in the water supply pipes and in the heating pipes. That company no longer gets our business.

Our current plumbing contractor simply shut off the water at the meter, hooked up a small pump to the lowest drain and pumped RV antifreeze up through all the water pipes. Shutting off the pump and drain left all the supply pipes filled with Antifreeze. A little in each trap finished up the job, leaving nothing to freeze and break and almost nothing to be reassembled when it is started back up.

BTW, our most recent bill for shutting down the house was about twice as much as the first one we had, but about half as much as the repair bill for fixing the leaks.
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:46 AM
 
Location: 43.55N 69.58W
3,231 posts, read 4,586,089 times
Reputation: 2913
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineah View Post
You should drain the plumbing system. I have done it in the past, it isn't that difficult. You'll need a compressor, some fittings ,air hose and some anti-freeze. What I did was shut off all the water coming in the building. If on a well this is easy . If it's town water you need to shut it off near the street. Open a valve low in the house and let the pipes drain out. Then hook the air to the faucets and blow out the hot and cold sides. Do the same for the heating pipes if it is a forced hot water system.
You then need to drain the toilet tanks as low as possible, blow out their supplies sponge out the rest of the water in the tanks and pour a little anti freeze in the bowl and under the flapper valve. Also pour some anti freeze into the sink traps.
If you do not do it you will have some places in the wall where there are curves and low spots that will hold the water which will freeze and burst the pipe. Ice can also freeze in the toilets and sink traps and burst them as well. It's a real pain to track down leaks in the walls when you go to start up a place in the spring. A few hours of draining and blowing out the water is well worth the time. If you do happen to have a porcelain sink or toilet burst on you make sure you handle the shards with LEATHER gloves as broken porcelain is sharper than a surgeon's scalpel!
This is exactly what we did over the weekend, we did it ourselves as we always do. We just shut down 2 of the houses, my dad will finish one next week and one stays open all year. It's a process and not an easy one to crawl under the house in the freezing cold, but it's a must.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:47 AM
 
Location: Virginia (soon Ellsworth)
653 posts, read 1,185,361 times
Reputation: 318
thanks Manieah, will have to print this out for future reference.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineah View Post
You should drain the plumbing system. I have done it in the past, it isn't that difficult. You'll need a compressor, some fittings ,air hose and some anti-freeze. What I did was shut off all the water coming in the building. If on a well this is easy . If it's town water you need to shut it off near the street. Open a valve low in the house and let the pipes drain out. Then hook the air to the faucets and blow out the hot and cold sides. Do the same for the heating pipes if it is a forced hot water system.
You then need to drain the toilet tanks as low as possible, blow out their supplies sponge out the rest of the water in the tanks and pour a little anti freeze in the bowl and under the flapper valve. Also pour some anti freeze into the sink traps.
If you do not do it you will have some places in the wall where there are curves and low spots that will hold the water which will freeze and burst the pipe. Ice can also freeze in the toilets and sink traps and burst them as well. It's a real pain to track down leaks in the walls when you go to start up a place in the spring. A few hours of draining and blowing out the water is well worth the time. If you do happen to have a porcelain sink or toilet burst on you make sure you handle the shards with LEATHER gloves as broken porcelain is sharper than a surgeon's scalpel!
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Old 12-01-2008, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Belfast, Maine
277 posts, read 503,740 times
Reputation: 143
My company does winterizations for a living and I hate them. It doesn't matter how good you blow out a system you may still find damage to the plumbing. Hot water baseboard is the worst! When you leave copper pipes sitting empty over a period of time they tend to constrict and pull apart. I had a house in Waterville 2 years ago that we winterized that I knew was going to be a problem. When we went back in 2 months after it was winterized there were over 100 pipes popped apart. The older the house and plumbing the worse it is.

The best thing you can do for hot water baseboard and radient in floor heat is to fill the system with glycol.

Our checklist for winterizations goes something like this:
If city meter disconnect city meter and hook up air compresser to the domestic side of the city line. Turn your compresser on and let it build up pressure in the pipes until it shuts off. We typically use 40 lbs of pressure as a standard. When the compresser shuts off that means that the lines are full of water/air. Go to the furtherest valve in the house, whether that be the toilet on the 2nd floor or a sink on the 1st floor. Open that valve until it stops spraying water out. Close the valve back up and let pressure rebuild, open it again, rinse and repeat this on all the sinks, toilets, bath tubs and showers in the house. After you have purged all the lines of air, go to your toiltes and use a small hand pump to remove as much water as you possibly can from the bowl and back of the toilet. Put non toxic RV antifreeze in the toilets, sink traps, bathtub/shower traps, basement drains etc. I would also make a stop at the local hardware store and buy a rubber stopper. Use the rubber stopper on the city side of your city water hook up. This is a secondary protection so that if the valve on the street fails or if it gets turned on for some reason you may not get water blowing out of the city horn and all over your house. Make sure to hook up to 2 or 3 places when you blow out your system. We always hook up to the city water meter if its a city hook up and then also hook up to the washer water supply and the out door hose. Hooking up to your boiler or hot water tank and attempting to do a blow out that way will not work. The boiler has check valves which will not allow the correct cycling of air and the hot water tank is too large of an area to try and fill with air when doing your blow out.

We also leave the lower valves open on the system. Such as if your boiler or hot water tank is in the basement, make sure to leave those open so that any water or condenstation that happens to be in there can drain up and not pool up.

Other things to think about when winterizing are ensuring that you shut off the water supply to the toilet when purging the systems of water so that air can build up. Also if you have a well pump ensure that you shut the main breaker off and disconnect the supply hose that runs from the well to your pump (if your pump is in the basement and not in the well). After you disconnect that supply hose make sure to put a stopper in it (rags will not work as a good stopper).

Contrary to what some of you may have heard, motor oil and vegtable oil are not good replacements for RV antifreeze! (Had to add that disclaimer as I've winterized 2 houses this month where people have put both of these liquids into the traps)
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:03 PM
 
122 posts, read 379,418 times
Reputation: 48
You all are an incredibly helpful wealth of info.

We're not brave enough to do this on our own. We've talked to 3 plumbers and gotten conflicting info and prices. The most expensive wants about 1500 and would put anti-freeze everywhere, including the drinking water lines. The guy who wants 1000 would drain, blow out, insulate the water main and put antifreeze in the traps. The least expensive guy thinks blowing out is fine. The $1500 dollar guy warns that the cold could cause damage to the drywall, paint and floors. Seems to me that being on Long Island in NY, where winters seldom see very many days with lows in the teens, this type of damage should be minimal. What has us most concerned though is the need to put rv antifeeze in the drinking pipes. The house is 55 years old and i'm concerned that putting antifreeze in the old pipes is something that might not flush out so easily. No matter how safe they claim it is to ingest in small amounts, i'd rather not.

We're really in a hard spot. We may have to put in a really cheap boiler just to get through the winter.

Thank you all for the time you took to respond!
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:29 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
6,175 posts, read 4,705,895 times
Reputation: 3544
That seems expensive, even on Long Island. I would have thought maybe $500, unless the house is quite large with many plumbing fixtures to deal with. I have no concern about using RV antifreeze. It was actually easier to fill the pipes with antifreeze than to drain and blow them out, without even accounting for the fact that there is always a low spot for water to gravitate to and freeze. Nearly every RV owner (except in the most southern climes) uses antifreeze in their water systems every year. So do many boat owners.
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:46 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport Maine
1,243 posts, read 1,717,105 times
Reputation: 1244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa1127 View Post
You all are an incredibly helpful wealth of info.

We're not brave enough to do this on our own. We've talked to 3 plumbers and gotten conflicting info and prices. The most expensive wants about 1500 and would put anti-freeze everywhere, including the drinking water lines. The guy who wants 1000 would drain, blow out, insulate the water main and put antifreeze in the traps. The least expensive guy thinks blowing out is fine. The $1500 dollar guy warns that the cold could cause damage to the drywall, paint and floors. Seems to me that being on Long Island in NY, where winters seldom see very many days with lows in the teens, this type of damage should be minimal. What has us most concerned though is the need to put rv antifeeze in the drinking pipes. The house is 55 years old and i'm concerned that putting antifreeze in the old pipes is something that might not flush out so easily. No matter how safe they claim it is to ingest in small amounts, i'd rather not.

We're really in a hard spot. We may have to put in a really cheap boiler just to get through the winter.

Thank you all for the time you took to respond!

WOW, that's expensive. Cost us less than $300. to get our house winterized with RV antifreeze. Our house is over 100 years old and the plumber had no problem with putting RV antifreeze in those pipes and it gets a lot colder for a lot longer in Eastport, Maine than in Long Island, NY.
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Eastport, Maine
1,131 posts, read 1,392,469 times
Reputation: 1027
The same plumber who did mensaguy and corgis house is my neighbor in Eastport. He winterized our house. We left the heat on the first part of last winter, and we had a buildup of condensation in the windows. Our heating system isn't properly vented, so we had the heat turned off. Other than an ice dam leak in a closet, we fared quite well. We did have the roof shoveled one time after a deep downeast snow storm, but other than that, no problem. We'll see how we make out this winter.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Calais, Maine
7,378 posts, read 8,061,681 times
Reputation: 5339
We have an old house in Eastport that we close down during the winter. Last winter we had a chimney leak and it dampened everything just enough to have some mold in a back storage room upstairs and the downstairs bathroom. What a mess! In June we had the chimney taken down below the roof line and the roof patched, so it won't be a problem. The only other issue we've ever had is a little peeling paint from the cold. The prices you were quoted are outrageous! My ex is a master plumber, so he comes in and does the winterizing for us. We buy the antifreeze (RV--it's cheaper) and it takes him about an hour to two depending on how things go and if anyone stops by to talk while he's doing it!
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:29 PM
 
109 posts, read 271,805 times
Reputation: 78
Hi,

Just my two cents. I would really worry about antifreeze in a drinking water line. Why would that be safe? When dogs drink it in water puddles from leaked cars it kills them. Is there something I'm missing here about the toxicity? Thanks for any info.
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