Arnold CA Blog

May 2016
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Time to Winterize Your Cabin

As another Summer comes to an end, and the temperatures start to drop you want to think about how you ‘left’ your cabin on your last trip, or more accurately if you properly winterized in preparation for the Winter. Each Fall we receive numerous ‘panicked’ calls from owners that have forgotten to winterize their cabins that are worried about their pipes freezing. While this may not seems like a ‘big’ deal, it is!  If you have any doubts, just ask your Insurance Agent what the consequences will be from a ‘water damage’ claim on your Insurance. While I am not a licensed Plumber, I am a licensed Real Estate Broker that for many years has managed quite a few Vacation Rentals on our Program. For the sake of convenience and ease of reference, I’m going to break this down into sections;

When Should You ‘Partially’ Winterize:  Anyone that does not live in their residence “full time”, and those full time residents that leave for extended periods of time for vacations, etc. should ‘partially’ winterize as a precaution by turning off their water, even in the Summer months. It only takes a few minutes and if a leak/break occurs, the only amount of water that can potentially leak out will be what is actually in the lines at the time.

When Should You Completely Winterize: I advise my second home clients to start a ‘full’ Winterization on Labor Day Weekend, and don’t stop until after Memorial Weekend. While we don’t expect temperatures to drop low enough to freeze pipes this early into Fall, most of you will find that your ‘visits’ to the cabin will be few, if not at all before Thanksgiving. Many owners will leave after Labor Day with the ‘intention’ of returning before Winter sets in, only to find that ‘all of a sudden’ they are hearing that snow is falling at the cabin and they realize they failed to Winterize.

How To Winterize: While the ‘set up’ in each cabin can differ, the following is a simplified version of the procedure;
1)     First determine if your Water Heater is propane or electric. If propane, go to the Water Heater and turn the settings dial to ‘vacation’. Older Water Heaters may not have a ‘vacation’ setting, if so turn the dial to ‘pilot’. If your Water Heater is electric, go to the main electrical service panel (typically on the exterior of the cabin) and find the ‘breakers’ marked Water Heater. Turn them off.

2)     Go into the ‘sub area’ (underneath the cabin) and find the water supply line where it enters the foundation. This will ‘typically’ be a copper line coming out of the ground. The ‘shut off’ valve may be either a round handle not unlike the handle to your hose bib, or it can also be a ‘directional’ handle. If it is a directional handle, turn it until the handle is at a 90 degree angle to the incoming water line.

3)     Once the water is turned off, find the lowest water faucet (preferably on the exterior) and open the faucet, and leave it open. If there is no exterior faucet, open whatever faucet is at the ‘lowest’ elevation point in the cabin.

4)     Now, go back through the cabin and open every water faucet, shower/tub faucet, and flush every toilet. As an additional safety measure, make sure to partially open the shower head ‘diverter’ valve, if so equipped. You goal is to eliminate as much water from the system as possible.

5)     Next, pour a ‘cap full’ of antifreeze into each and every drain in the cabin including shower drains, sink drains, and toilets. Please don’t use RV Antifreeze which is already diluted and will not protect your pipes!

6)     Lastly, close the door to your Dishwasher (if applicable) and turn on the Dishwasher for just a few seconds. This will activate the solenoid in the Dishwasher allowing what little water is in the line serving the Dishwasher to drain and prevent the plastic solenoid from freezing and breaking.

Conclusion: Even though you (or a service provider) properly shut down and drained your cabin, it is virtually impossible to evacuate all of the water from the system.  There will always be an amount of water still in the pipes.  The amount of water depends on if the plumbing system was properly ‘sloped’ when it was installed.  When we experience freezing conditions, the remaining water in the system can still freeze and result in broken pipes.  If you or someone else has not been to your cabin recently, I have very strong words of caution. Do not turn on the water and leave the cabin without looking and listening for breaks!

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67 comments to Time to Winterize Your Cabin?

  • Ed

    There is plenty of good advice here, but I do take issue with one item. The blog strongly recommended (all in BOLD) “Please don’t use RV Antifreeze which is already diluted and will not protect your pipes!”.

    This is simply untrue, and what’s more, there are good reasons to specifically use the RV/Marine antifreeze rather than automobile antifreeze.

    First of all, the RV antifreeze is formulated to protect to -50 degrees F. It will crystallize (i.e. get “slushy”) at about +10 degrees F, but will not expand and cause cracking or bursting until it reaches -50 (some formulas provide burst protection to -100, but unless you’re living above the Arctic Circle this is overkill). So if used properly, it will be more than adequate to protect plumbing over winter.

    Secondly, and more importantly, automobile antifreeze is extremely toxic to humans and animals, and adding it to plumbing systems where it makes its way to septic systems, groundwater, etc. is not a good thing. The RV/Marine antifreeze is classified as non-toxic. It’s actually used in some cases as a food additive.

    And finally, the RV/Marine antifreeze is generally much less expensive than automobile antifreeze. A gallon of RV (typically pink in color) can usually be found for $5 or less, while undiluted auto antifreeze usually approaches $10/gallon.

    I’ve been winterizing my cabin’s plumbing in northern Michigan for over 30 years using RV antifreeze. Daytime highs in January often stay below 10 degrees F, and I’ve never had freeze-damage to my plumbing.

  • Tim

    Thank you very much for your comments! While I respect your knowledge and experiences, I will still ‘stand firm’ on my observations regarding the RV Antifreeze. Our firm manages quite a few Vacation Rentals (over 30+ years) and we have experienced the results of using RV Antifreeze first hand. Our open/close crews have actually found large chunks of completely frozen RV Antifreeze in toilet bowls. Additionally, several Licensed Plumbers have commented that it would take an entire gallon of RV Antifreeze to properly winterize a cabin as opposed to a cap full of regular Antifreeze. Lastly, your comment regarding toxic Antifreeze is right on the mark. Our ‘Owners’ know to use the environmentally safe version which is actually ‘spelled out’ in there Contracts. In California there is a huge fine (either $5,000 or $10,000) for contaminating ground water with regular Antifreeze. Thank you again! Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • David

    Good advice. I am in the process of documenting winter procedures for the use of a family cabin in the southern Sierra. I am curious if you can give more information about how much you mean by a “cap full” of antifreeze. Do you mean about a couple of tablespoons? We have always used quite a bit more than that. I can’t seem to find good information on how much to use except what I get word of mouth, which is usually based more on tradition than trial and error. Thanks for the advice. However, I am concerned about cutting back to your recommendation without more information.

  • Tim

    David, Thank you for your comments. My reference to a ‘cap full’ of Antifreeze is the cap of the Antifreeze bottle. While I’m not sure what the ‘low’ temps typically are at the location of your cabin, we have been using this method for many years without any issues. If you feel the temps might be lower than we experience at the 4000 to 5000 foot level here, it can’t hurt to use a little more. Keep in mind that this is to protect the ‘traps’ under sinks, showers, and tubs plus the toilet tanks and bowls. This will not protect against water remaining in the closed system of your pipes.

    • Gordon

      The simple answer to this issue is that when using RV antifreeze in a cabin, you must pour enough down the traps, bends, etc. to ENTIRELY DISPLACE any existing water in those areas. That’s how the pink fluid works,unlike the green ethylene glycol, which need only mix with the water in small amounts to prevent freezing. But even small amounts of ethylene glycol can harm a septic system when it is flushed out into it in the Spring.

      • Tim

        Gordon, Thank you for your comment. Your point about ethylene glycol antifreeze is an excellent one. We only use environmentally ‘safe’ antifreeze as noted in the original post. I have been told there is a huge fine ($5,000 or $10,000) in California for contaminating ground water with non environmetally safe antifreeze. With respect to the RV antifreeze, we find that we use much less of the ‘regular’ antifreeze (cap full) as opposed to the RV ‘flavor’, and don’t need to worry if we have used enough to properly protect the plumbing.

        • Gordon

          I gather from your reply that you use a third kind of antifreeze, which is neither the toxic (green) ethylene glycol, the hazards of which you are aware, nor the non-toxic (pink) RV antifreeze, propylene glycol, which you do not use or recommend. If you are using an antifreeze that is effective in cap full amounts, yet is still “environmentally safe”, please tell us what it is, since it cannot be ethylene glycol.

          • Tim

            Gordon, sorry for the delay in responding. I have been swamped getting all of our equipment ready for the snow removal season. The antifreeze that we use that is not RV antifreeze, but is environmentally safe is sold locally under the name of ‘Sierra’. I’m also told the there is also an environmentally safe antifreeze produced by Prestone but I do not have the exact ‘name’ at my finger tips. Hope this helps!

  • Greeper

    I have a cabin up in Big Bear which we make pretty regular trips to however, there maybe a few weeks here and there we can’t get away. I’m also going to be renting the cabin on occasion. My question is, if I leave the water heater on and set the thermostats inside at 55 do I still need to turn the water off? I’m just trying to figure out the best way to manage this since I have a cleaning lady who comes in and will need the water on when after we or renters leave.. thanks

  • Tim

    Greeper, Thank you for your comments! Over the years, quite a few of our clients (Vacation Rental Owners and weekend users) have wanted to do the same thing you are suggesting. Here is the dilemma with what you are proposing; leaving the heat on is still not a ‘guaranteed’ safeguard against your pipes freezing. While not a common occurrence, from time to time we do have power outages that can and have lasted several days. I’m assuming that this can and does happen in the Big Bear areas as well. If that happens, your heating system (even if natural gas or propane) will not function as the system requires electricity to run igniters and circulating fans which will leave your cabin at risk. The only exception to this rule is natural gas/propane woodstove styled units, which will continue to work without electricity. Even then, is it worth the risk if a thermo coupler or other component in the natural gas/propane delivery system fails and your cabin floods?

  • Greeper

    thanks for the reply, I basically decided it wasn’t worth the risk so we winterize each time we leave, I turn the stop/waste valve off and drain each facet then put anti freeze in each drain.. Since I’m doing this should I still keep the thermostat at 55? It doesn’t seem like I still need to, and should I adjust the water heater to Vacation setting? Thanks and sorry for all the questions.. I’m glad I found this site/blog pretty cool..

  • Tim

    Greeper, questions are a good thing! I think you have made a very wise decision in winterizing each time. It is much better to be safe than sorry! In this day and age of rising utility costs, I would suggest turning off your heating system completely since you are now winterizing every time. With respect to the Water Heater, if it is electric go to your main electrical panel (or sub panel if so equipped), and find the ‘double’ breaker that services the Water Heater and turn the breaker to the off position. If the Water Heater is gas (natural or propane), go to the Water Heater and turn the control knob to ‘pilot’, or if the unit is newer turn it to ‘vacation’.

    One last important note on the Water Heater, if the Water Heater is electric it is very important to make sure when returning to the cabin to NOT turn the breakers to the Water Heater on until you have made sure the water has been turned on first. When you ‘drain down’ the water system, the possibility exists that a small amount of water will siphon off the top of the Water Heater Tank exposing the upper heating element. If electricity is applied before the element is submerged, the element will immediately ‘fry’ and drop to the bottom of the tank. If this happens, it is not the end of the world, but unless you are knowledgeable enough to replace the element, you will be paying a plumber to do it.

  • David Powell

    Good information here! We want to winterize our lake cabin in northern Indiana. We have well water, not city. How do I winterize the pump, pressure tank, etc.?

  • Tim

    David, sorry for the delay. I was in Los Angeles for a Leadership Conference for two days. Unfortunately, I have very little experience with wells and storage tanks as we have a County wide water system in our area. I contacted one of our local plumbers and posed your question. The Plumber indicated that he was uncomfortable giving you an answer due to his unfamiliarity with your climate, and the size and design of the storage tank. I might suggest you contact a licensed plumber in the area of your cabin and see what he/she suggests. Please let me know what you discover…

  • Greeper

    thanks for all the info, since we’ll have renters up every so often and we’ll be up there we’ve chosen to keep the water heater on, it’s a gas heater.. As for the heaters inside I’ve lowered them down to 50, this way when either ourselves or renters show up it’s not absolutely freezing inside the place.. thanks again for the great tips and info..

  • Paul

    I waswondering what brand ofnon-toxic anti-freeze you suggest? Can I purchase this in Sonora? Do most hardware or automotive storescarry this?

    Thanks for your help

  • Tim

    Paul, Thank you for your comment/question. I have spent the last two days in our Snow Removal Equipment so my memory is a little ‘fuzzy… lol. If memory serves me, I believe the brand I see locally is Sierra ‘something’. I’m sure there are other brand names I’m not including. Our local auto supply (Arnold Auto Supply) carries it so you should not experience any difficulties finding it in multiple locations in Sonora such as OHS, Ace, and all of the automotive stores.

  • Sue

    We recently winterized our cabin for this year and we live 12 hours away. We actually use RV fluid (7 to 8 gallons) and pump all remaning water out of the lines. Anyway, we have a washer and dryer hook up but we currently don’t have a washer/dryer. We forgot to do anything with the washer line, should we have and will this create a huge problem if we have not used a washer there yet?

  • Tim

    Sue, Thank you for your comment. As I’m sure you noted when reading the post, we will not use RV antifreeze for the reasons stated in the article. That being said, if you have properly winterized your cabin there should not be anything additional that needs to be done to the plumbing servicing the laundry area of the cabin. Once the water has been shut off to the entire cabin, and the ‘lines’ have been drained, and all ‘traps’ antifreezed you should be fine.

  • johnhaward

    It’s so refreshing to find articles like the ones you post on your site. Very informative reading. I will keep you bookmarked. Thanks!

  • Judy Berg

    We have a cabin that is three stories with a bathroom and water heater and manabloc water system on the lower level. Should be remove each of the feeds from the manabloc and drain everything that way. We also have an outside faucet on the lowest level. We could leave an electric heater in the room with the manabloc and water heater to keep that insulated room just above freezing but I understand what you say about power going off, our water heater is propane and the water comes from a public system that we can shut off in the manabloc room and we also have a stop and waste outside.

  • Tim

    Judy, Thank you for your question. While I have a very ‘basic’ understanding of the definition of a Manabloc System, I do not believe I have ever winterized a cabin with this system. As I understand it, the Manabloc System functions as a ‘master’ control for the water distribution in your cabin allowing you to selectively control water to different parts of the cabin, as well as add additional water lines with less difficulty/expense. I’m hesitant to advise anything additional as I also understand that the Manabloc System is primarily made of plastic, and there may be additional steps needed to properly protect this system. I would be grateful if you would revisit the blog with any additional information on winterizing this type of system versus a non Manabloc System.

  • Vincent Batalla

    I appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Cool.

  • joanne

    To winterize, if you turn off the water heater, won’t the water in the water heater freeze? Our water heater is under the cabin, so will get cold.

  • Tim

    Joanne, Thank you for your comment/question. If your cabin/second home is located in our area I don’t think you need to worry about the water heater freezing. In 30+ years we have never ‘drained’ a water heater and have never had a water heater freeze. If your property is located outside of our area, I might suggest you contact a licensed plumber in that area to see what their ‘local practice’ is with respect to water heaters.

  • joshua Thomas

    Hey ! Love your blog.

  • Peter L.

    Thanks for helpful post, it was quite handy and helped me quite a bit

  • John S.

    Great info on winterizing cabin.
    I have a cabin on a lake in Alleghey mountains of PA. It can stay below zero for a week or more at a time. Not often, but does happen. I shut off water at main valve and open faucets every time I leave. I keep the place at about 50 – 55 degrees because we use the place for several week-long stays during the winter for snow sports. Heating is electric baseboard heat. My concern is that when we lose power up there it can be down for days. On top of that the main water line comes into the house through a basement wall at about 1 foot up from the floor. It then turns upward and the shut off valve is about 4 feet up from the basement floor. So there is about 3 feet of main line pipe between the entrance point to the house and the shut off valve. Isn’t this at risk of freezing/bursting ? House is on municipal water if that matters. What to do?

    • Tim

      John, Thank you for your comment. If I understand your ‘description’ correctly, you have a section of your main supply line that is ‘plumbed’ in such a manner that you can’t really insure it has properly drained? If this is accurate, I would contact a licensed Plumber to see if anything (weep valve, etc.) can be installed at the section that does not properly drain. Another possible option (although not perfect) is the installation of a UL approved Heat Tape. If you go this ‘route’ be certain that the Heat Tape is UL listed, as there are some on the market that are not tested and approved by UL. Also, please keep in mind that the Heat Tape will not give you any ‘protection’ if the power goes out. Lastly, if you have been able to properly drain down the system with the exception of that ‘section’, a break there will only result in what little water was left in that area, as opposed to a complete ‘flood’ of the cabin.

  • John S.

    Thanks for the quick response. I don’t think I described my problem well enough. The issue is that the main line (i.e., the source of water from the municipality) comes into my house near the floor but the shutoff valve is placed on that line several feet past the point that it comes into the house. So when I “shut off the water” to my entire house there is still 3 feet of pipe (the main line) that is exposed to possbible threat of freezing. And if it did freeze and burst water would flow freely and continuosly from the municipality into the house. In other words, imagine a pipe that comes into the house and three feet of pipe later there is a shutoff valve that stops all water from going beyond that point. That is how my main line from the municipality is set up. I am worried about the three feet of main line between the entry point to the house and the shut-off valve freezing during a period of no electricity. Make sense?

  • Tim

    John, now I have a better understanding of what you were trying to describe. While I do not ‘know’ the weather/temps for that area, your concern is valid if the section of plumbing you are describing does indeed break during a freeze. I would suggest that you contact an experienced licensed plumber in the same locale as the property, and explain the situation to the Plumber. Possibly he/she will have a suggestion that neither of us has thought of. Is moving or adding another ‘shut off’ outside the ‘foundation’ an option? The Heat Tape is obviously an option, but not a ‘fail safe’ if the power goes out for an extended period of time. Please let me know what you discover after speaking with the Plumber.

  • John S.

    Thanks Tim. Good advice. I’m heading there over the next few weeks. I’ll let you know what I hear form a plumber.

  • LAPA

    Ok kinda off the beaten path.. I live in Northern Kansas rarely do we get below -10 for more than a few days…

    I have a Mobile home i need to winterize as im moving in with my BF and i dont want to heat the place when im only in the house for a few minutes each day.

    I know for a fact that i cant get the hot water line drained all the way… Could i put RV Antifreeze (i know you dont recomend the RV type) in my hot water line after i have gotten all the water out that i can?? I know this would thin out the antifreeze but would it help??? I had frozen lines last winter and replaced all of them this spring.. I know how to drain the water heater and toilet.


    • Tim

      LAPA, thank you for your comments/question. Unfortunately, I have zero experience with mobile homes. I might suggest you contact a plumber or mobile home dealership in your area and pose the question. Please let us know what advice you receive.

  • Dan Eliot

    Regarding the RV antifreeze vs. Sierra auto antifreeze debate. They are the same thing! Both are Propolene Glycol antifreeze. However, the RV antifreeze is prediluted with water. Also available is Prestone “LowTox” antifreeze made of Propolene Glycol. The Prestone is the same stuff as the Sierra… and often a few bucks cheaper.

    Prooplene Glycol antifreese will often become slushy at 20 degrees F, and appear solid at 10 degrees F or lower. HOWEVER… appearing solid orslushy DOES NOT mean that it is not working. The key is that… undiluted RV antifreeze will not EXPAND and burst pipes until -50 undiluted. So seeing a solid block is fine as long as it isn’t expanded. Undiluted Sierra or Prestone LowTox shluld probably last to -100 undiluted, or -50 diluted.

    Botton line, Sierra is the same thing as RV, just diluted down 50/50 (plus auto related rust inhibitors and additives).

    I use the Prestone LowTox because my local auto place has it, and it’s cheaper than the pre-diluted RV stuff.

  • Dan Eliot

    Here’s a link discussing Prestone LowTox. Disclaimer, I have nothing to do with this company, I just use the stuff:

  • Tim

    Dan, Thank You for the additional information!

  • Micki Buelna

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  • Jerry

    I read the info on the Prestone product mentioned above and noted at the very bottom in small print that it must never be discharged into a septic system. Does anyone know why this is true? Since both are propylene glycol products, does anyone know if it is also true that the RV type antifreeze shouldn’t be discharged into a septic tank?

    • Tim

      Hi Jerry, Thank you for your comment. The problem with RV antifreeze is that it is already diluted and will not be ‘strong’ enough to protect the plumbing. I’m assuming the reason that the ‘fine print’ is warning about introducing the antifreeze in to a septic system is that that particular ‘flavor’ is not environmentally safe. If it does not say it is environmentally safe, we don’t buy it for winterizing. Hope this helps!

  • Concerning the environmental issues on using RV antifreeze versus auto antifreeze… with RV usually being used to protect the environment – this is misleading. Both RV antifreeze and regular auto antifreeze are biologically degradable. Both break down at about the rate of 6 days to 3 weeks in the soil and water. Thus, they are both equal in the environment and will break down in septic systems accordingly. This can be verified by any chemical publication on the web. Just go to Google and type in “Does Auto Antifreeze Break Down in the Environment?”. So in reality, RV antifreeze would hurt the environment more because you use one gallon RV to one cup of auto antifreeze to accomplish the same result.

  • have

    I really love this site! The information is priceless. Thanks for every one of the posts and making my morning. Compliments, have

  • Larry Giacomino

    I live at 4800 feet near Long Barn. My water heater is the lowest part of my system. I use the cabin at least 1 -2 times per month and have never drained the water heater when I winterize.
    This summer I moved the heater to the basement and it now sits at the lowest point of the water system.
    Should I drain the heater when I winterize, now that it’s in the basement?
    I have it well insulated but am wondering if it’s colder down there than when it was in the house.
    Thanks, Larry

    • Tim

      Hi Larry!

      Thank you for your comment and question. We have had quite a few Vacation Rentals at the 5000 foot mark over the years and have never drained the Water Heaters nor have we ever had an issue with a Water Heater freezing. Hope this helps!

  • jan

    we have a propane hot water tank that needs to be winterized. we live in manitoba and this weekend we plan on draining the system. i have been told to use a compressor to blow out the lines so there is no water left. what is required of the hot water tank other than empting the tank of water and leaving the valves open?

    • Tim

      Hi Jan,

      Thank you for your question/comment. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the climate in Manitoba so I’m uncomfortable in advising you about the Water Heater. In our area and climate, we do not drain Water Heaters. I might suggest that you contact a licensed plumber in the Manitoba area to see if the plumber feels that your ‘lows’ dictate draining the Water Heater. You may find that draining the Water Heater is unnecessary. I would be grateful if you would be so kind as to ‘report back’ your findings.


  • rob

    I am winterizing a cabin a just bought. I turned off the power to the well pump and shut off the water at the well head (10 feet from house). Yet when I open the valve in the basement to drain water from well pipe (just before pipes yo plumbing) the water keeps flowing! How can this be?

    • Tim

      Hi Rob,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we have virtually ‘zero’ experience with wells. While I have no way of ‘knowing’ how your system is setup, there has to be a value that when shut will prevent water from leaving your holding tank and entering the cabin. Turning off the power to the pump will prevent the pump from re-filling the holding tank, but there must be an open value that is allowing the water to ‘leave’ the tank and continue on into the cabin.

  • Larry

    Have you ever used the West Marine “Pure Oceans” Propylene Glycol?
    In it’s pure form(undiluted) they claim to -200 degrees F. Not for engines but for water systems.
    Thanks, Larry

  • Tommy

    We have a property with a new septic system and due to the distance between the building and the septic system (pitch between the two, or lack thereof), we periodically experience a frozen septic line. We do not know what to do and are considering using antifreeze as you suggest. However, digging up the line and trying to do something different is NOT an option since the pitch is not going to change according to the authorities. So, we are stuck calling in an expensive company to water-jet the line every time it freezes. What can we do?

    • Tim

      Hi Tommy,

      If I understand your post correctly, you are indicating that the tight line between your septic tank and the structure is freezing? If this is correct it would lead me to believe that the depth of the line is too shallow to avoid the freeze. While I have no idea of the property’s location, in our area we are 18 inches deep to avoid freezing. If there is no way to bury the line ‘deeper’ without causing flow/function issues, possibly you can contact a plumber or septic installer and explore the possibility of adding ‘heat tape’ to the line that freezes. While far from a perfect fix, it beats paying for a service provider every time.

    • TOM

      I have the same problem with my system. What I did to fix the problem was to cover the line with 2 inch polystyrene 4×8 sheets so frost did not come around sides.Ithen covered that with dirt and never had any more problems. Ilive in northern WI.

  • Tommy

    thank you….I just hate to have to dig up the parking lot to put in tape, but when you make omelets

  • ErwinResident

    I find this whole conversation odd. In the Big Bear Lake area of Southern California homes are now required to have a stop and waste valve for the water lines. “Winterizing” becomes less important when a stop and waste valve is involved. It drains the existing water in the lines and stops water from entering the lines. It is the best and most efficient method of “winterizing” a cabin up here; which is why it’s now required.


    I have a cabin in a remote area and I do not have anti freeze with me for winterizing. I have used all of the rubbing alcohol that my wife has in the med. cabinet. Can I use mineral sprites in the P traps and the bowl of the toilet to prevent freezing? Thank you in advance for your help. SAM

    • Tim

      hi Sam,

      Thank you for your comment. I have no idea if using Alcohol or Mineral Spirits will provide the appropriate protecting for your cabin. I’m sending your question to one of my Plumbers and will post his response.


      • Tim

        Hi Sam,

        I did have an opportunity to speak with one of my Plumbers regarding your question about using mineral spirits as a substitute for antifreeze. While the Plumber had never had this question posed to him. He suggested that you do an experiment and place mineral spirits in the freezer and see if it freezes. I would be very curious to hear about the results if you do indeed do the experiment.


  • Eric

    What is a good brand/model of dishwasher for camps which need to be drained down. I am tired of pulling the hoses off the bottom to drain the water and disconnecting the water supply. what should I buy and what is the procedure to winterize considering there is water in the lines and pump as well as the supply line. Thanks Eric

  • Tim

    Eric, Thank you for your comment/question. On our Vacation Rental Program, we do not disconnect any water lines from Dishwashers. Once the main water supply line servicing the cabin has been shut off and the bulk of the water has been drained from the lines, we close the door to the Dishwasher and hit the start button then immediataly open the Dishwasher door. This allows the plastic ‘valve’ supplying water the Dishwasher to open and lets what little water is in the valve to drain, preventing the plastic valve from freezing and breaking. If your property is located in an area other than ours, I might suggest you contact a licensed plumber in that area to see if additional measures should be taken to prevent damage to the Dishwasher.

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  • […] refresher, follow this link to the procedure/instructions we use in our Vacation Rental Program . If you are unwilling or unable to complete this task yourself, there are local service providers […]

  • […] our office was 27.8 degrees. If you need assistance/instructions on winterizing, follow this link for detailed instructions. If you are unwilling or unable to accomplish this on your own, there […]

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