Winterizing Your Home

When Should You “Partially” Winterize:

Who should ‘Partially’ Winterize?  Anyone that does not live in their residence full-time, and those full-time residents who leave for extended periods of time for vacations, etc.  These owners should ‘partially’ winterize as a precaution by turning off their water, even in the Summer months.  It only takes a few minutes to turn off their water and, if a leak/break does occur, 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:

We advise our homeowners to start a full winterization on Labor Day weekend and don’t stop until after Memorial Day weekend.  While we don’t expect temperatures to drop low enough to freeze pipes early in the Fall, most of you will find that visits to your house 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 in the mountains, and they realize they failed to Winterize.

Suggestions For Winterizing Your Residence:

While the ‘set up’ in each residence can differ, the following is a simple Checklist to help you Winterize:

  1. Insulate exposed water pipes under the residence and any exposed service lines outside.  A watertight box should cover any outside insulation.  (Wet insulation loses its insulating value.)
  2. When closing the residence, shut off water at your shut-off valve.  (Please do not use the BLSMWC shut-off valve located in the meter box closest to the street.)
  3. Turn off electricity to the hot water heater.  Be sure the heater is full of water before restoring energy.
  4. Drain lines by opening the drain valve that should be at the lowest point in the system.  (If you have no drain valve, you should install one.)
  5. Open all inside faucets (kitchen, bathroom, service room, etc., including shower riser).
  6. Open all outside hose bibs and relieve all vacuum breakers if so equipped.
  7. Flush toilets and add 1/4 cup of biodegradable, non-toxic, antifreeze to toilet bowls.  Add 1/8 cup of biodegradable, non-toxic, antifreeze to water left in flush tanks and in all wastewater traps.  CAUTION: ANTIFREEZE MAY AFFECT THE PROPER OPERATION OF YOUR SEPTIC TANK AND SHOULD BE USED IN MODERATION.
  8. Please DO NOT let water just run in order to prevent freezing since this wastes water.


Even though you (or a service provider) properly shut down and drain your residence, it is virtually impossible to evacuate all water from the system.  There will always be some 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 residence recently, we have very strong words of caution:  Do not turn on the water and leave the cabin without looking and listening for breaks!