Plumbing in the Home/winterizing


We are Floridians who just bought a cabin in N. GA.  Caretaker for previous owner says his routine has been to turn off main water valve to house, open outside ground level spigot and blow some air through an open faucet upstairs.  There is some heat tape wrapped around the pipe as it comes up through the ground outside (from pump on shared well next door).  There is also heat tape on same pipe as it comes through poured concrete basement wall to gas water heater.  I've asked what is done about the hot water lines for winterizing.  Answer: they kept WH on vacation mode (60 deg I think) and nothing more.  As there is no circulation I don't understand why hot water lines aren't freezing.  What am I missing?  My plan is to do the same as previous owner on the cold water side and also let hot water inside run out till pressure is relieved and shoot some air in a faucet with the hot side open.  This will drain water in the lines back into the water heater, which will then be getting no more water or pressure with the main water valve to the whole house off.  Is there any reason I should not do this?  Will the water heater on vacation mode with the main supply off cause a problem?  We are all electric in FL so I'm learning to deal with gas in N. GA.

Dear Dwayne,

    I suspect that the previous owner also allowed the hot water to drain back into the hot water tank.  As long as there is water in the tank, then vacation mode will keep the tank warm enough to prevent it from freezing.  The other thing that I would do different would be to drain the hot water tank and shut it down completely... by draining the system that way you can get pretty much all of the water from the pipes.

Plumbing in the Home

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Thomas Ambler


I am experienced at troubleshooting and solving all types of plumbing problems. Issues related to specific manufacturers fixtures and specifications though are beyond my field of expertise. I have dealt with problems in both rural and urban areas, and with water supply and drainage systems. Plumbing issues can be very obscure... such as odors, stains or occasional seepage. I have even had to chase rats from a customer's sewer line.


I have 25 years experience dealing with plumbing systems (which also includes hot water and steam heating systems). My main expertise is in diagnosing and solving problems. I have worked in construction and installation of new systems but do not regard myself as an expert in that area.

Asbury Park Press, Seattle Times, Denver Post.

I completed high school and one year of college. I served 4 years in the Marine Corps and have education in electronic and electrical troubleshooting and repair. I have attended classes on installing and repair of oil burners, and I have EPA universal certification for air conditioning and refrigeration. I am now enrolled as a full-time student at Everest college to re-train for a new career. Any donations of financial support would be greatly appreciated.

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All of Denny's Restaurants in NJ, Several Burger King stores, I have done work at two different homes for Bruce Springsteen. I have also worked for Jim Johnson (of J&J) and his family, Whitney Houston, Steve Forbes and many others.

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