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When you winterize your home for the cold season, you basically shut down the plumbing and water supply so that the vacant house is able to withstand cold winter temperatures and there are no freezing pipes when you return home. But, how do you de-winterize your home?
This step-by-step guide will help you with just that. To de-winterize your house, you’re essentially getting your plumbing system back in shape by reversing what you did to winterize your plumbing in the Fall.
What does it mean to de-winterize?
The process of de-winterizing a home involves reopening pipes and water lines that were closed when the building was left vacant during the cold season.
As you work on reconnecting water lines or supply pipes for various appliances in your home such as a washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, or refrigerator, it may be necessary to refer to the owners’ manuals for each home appliance.
But, let’s walk you through the steps of de-winterizing your home systematically so that your home is ready for you once again!
Turn on all shutoff electrical circuits
Often, you turn off your home’s electrical supply – keeping only the critical circuits functioning. These could be the furnace circuit or home lighting circuits. The first step is to check the main service panel and inspect each circuit breaker for any damage. Switch on the breakers that may have been turned off.
If you’ve left your home vacant for a long period of time, you may have unplugged all your electric fixtures. Plug in the lamps and other essential appliances into the electrical outlets. This will help you detect any electrical issues.
Connect the water supply pipes
If you disconnected the flexible supply tubes from your plumbing fixtures during the de-winterizing process, it’s important to inspect all the fixtures systematically and reconnect the flex tubes to either the shutoff valves or the appliance inlets.
It’s best to do this on a room-by-room basis, carefully examining the kitchen and bathroom sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and any other plumbing appliances.
Additionally, you should inspect the water heater, water softener, and other utility appliances to ensure that their water connections are correct. Before turning the water back on, it’s best to remove aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets (including tubs) to clean any dirt buildup.
Unblock all the drains in the house, including the toilet, shower, and floor drains.
Switch on the main water supply
Gradually open the main water supply valve that supplies water to your home once all water supply tubes and pipes have been reconnected correctly. To release any trapped air as the pipes refill with water, it’s advisable to open the faucet of a utility sink near the main shutoff valve and turn on its shutoff valve as you slowly turn on the main water supply valve.
Slowly turn on the plumbing fixtures
To restore the water supply, partially open the main water valve and visit each plumbing fixture in every room. Prior to opening the faucet of each fixture, ensure that the shutoff valve is open. As trapped air in the pipes escapes, air will likely rush out of the faucet, and the initial water flow may be loud and forceful. This is normal. When the water runs clear, turn off the faucet. Examine the fixture shutoff valves for leaks, and tighten any seeping or actively leaking joints. Have rags or paper towels handy as you check each fixture to clean up small leaks or drips.
Thoroughly check all plumbing fixtures
Examine your refrigerator icemakers, water filters, and dishwashers to ensure that their water supplies are functioning. Test the toilets as long periods of non-use may cause the seals on the flush valves to harden, making it difficult for the toilet tank to seal properly after each flush cycle.
Once all fixtures appear to be functioning correctly, fully open the main water valve.
If there are any leaks, it’s a good idea to hire a licensed plumber. Reinstall all faucet aerators and switch on the water heater once it has filled up. Examine the exterior spigot faucets and exterior hose too to make sure they are not leaking and are working properly. If the low water pressure is causing a leaking split in the stub-out pipe, you may need to enter your crawlspaces or inspect the basement.
Turn on the gas and light pilots
Winterizing your home would have meant turning off the gas supply to prevent any gas leaks. Turn the valve back on to restore gas throughout the house.
If your appliances (older home furnaces, water heaters, and stoves) operate with standing pilot lights instead of electronic ignition systems, you must relight these pilots.
Check the sump pump
Ensure that your sump pump, which functions as part of the drain tile and sump pit system in your home, is on and functioning properly. Failure to do so could result in basement flooding due to spring rains or melted snow runoff.
Check and clean the rain gutters
It’s common to have dried leaves, branches, and other debris clogging the roof gutters during the winter months. Make sure the gutters are clear and the downspouts carry the flow of water away from your home.
Read more: How to clean rain gutters
Last thoughts on how to de-winterize
Although you can de-winterize a home on your own, you might require the assistance of a professional in case a special anti-freeze solution has been used to prevent freezing in pipes. It is essential to note that the pipes must be entirely flushed to eliminate all remnants of the antifreeze solution at the time of de-winterizing.