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Question DetailsAsked on 10/6/2014

How much does it cost to winterize the plumbing of a vaccant home? 2 full baths, kitchen, water heater, softener

House is in Indiana, built in 1950's, on well and septic

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Here is a prior similar question with a couple of responses that might help you -

For the plumbing only, that can run about $250 for shutoff and drain only, on up to $500 range (plus cost of installing a lowpoint blowdown valve if needed) to drain AND blow out with high-volume air compressor to really get the pipes water-free.

Of course, in your case you have maybe 50-100% more to winterize the well system too, which typically requires a pump and well contractor unless just a shallow well with above-ground pump.

Pay attention to where shutoff valves and such are - because the water can freeze at them also if above-ground or not below frost line, although you may (if you do not have a service line/meter backflow preventer) have the advantage of having the open service line for the pressure to dissipate in if the water freezes in your shutoff valve. In houses with significant frost penetration (probably about 2.5 to 5 feet in your case depending on your locale and especially on how far north you are in the state), I prefer to drain the lines and then keep a faucet or two open somewhere where it will be noticed by the person checking the house AND cause no problem from possible flowing and icing, then shut off the water at the buried keybox - the utility shutoff. In colder areas or very harsh winters, it is not unheard of for the in-house shutoff valve or the piep right below it to burst, resulting in a full flow 1-2 inches in diameter into the house - NOT good news. When thinking of possible open faucets in case the shutoff valve leaks water into the system (pretty common with old valves) pay attention to what will happen to the water, realizing things like floor drains that would normally handle the water OK will ice up immediately too.

Of course, if you can leave a few faucets open after draining (where emptying AND glaciering will not hurt), then the trouble you go to with the winterizing depends a lot on how much damage would occur if there WAS a break near the shutoff valve.

Personally, while in cabins and such it is unavoidable, I hate shutting down a heating system even if you do drain the pipes - I prefer to keep the house warm to avoid problems. Of course, with steam/hot water systems shuttingoff the water is not possible like it is with forced air.

Another, though generally quite a bit more expensive solution, is to drain the system then refill it with a propylene (NOT ethylene) glycol RV antifreeze solution and leave the system that way. Not suitable for all pumps or boilers,, so you need to check manufacturer recommendation on that, but does solve some of the corrosion and boiler/water heater rusting issues that occur with draining and leaving it empy all winter. You still want to shut off the water shutoff valve(s) in case of a leaking or broken pipe.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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