Plumbing in the Home/Water shutoff?


I live in New Jersey where the nighttime temperature already hit 0 degrees this winter. I plan to go on vacation next month and intend to shut off the water to the entire house. I live in a single family home. In the past, whenever I went away for an extended period of time during the winter, I always turned off the house water. Yesterday I spoke to a friend about this and he suggested that instead of closing the main water valve, that I leave it open and turn on one cold and one hot water faucet so that it drips. This way, he says, there is water constantly running through the pipes (although very slowly) which will prevent the pipes from freezing. If I shut off the main valve, the pipes could freeze and then burst when I return home and turn the water back on. Which method do you suggest so that I don't have a flood when I return home?

Hi Alan,
Having lived in the high Sierras for many years, I'm familiar with this problem. We actually plumbed the houses so that they were designed to be shut down by adding drain valves in the system. I actually offered a shut down and start up service to the people that owned ski cabins that were only used a few times a year.

The proper way to do this is to drain all the interior water pipes (and blow them out with air if needed) to be sure. I'm sure there are instructional videos on YouTube. It's called "winterizing". You should also add non-toxic antifreeze to the traps under the sinks and tubs/shower drains and to the toilet bowls. (not the tank, it should be emptied) This non-toxic antifreeze is available from RV stores.
Good Luck,

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Dana Bostick


Pretty much any residential plumbing questions. For "item specific" details such as a specific model of fixture, I will need to research and there may not be any useful information available. Note: I live and work in Southern California. We do not, as a rule, use hot water or steam heating systems, oil fired boilers or private water wells so my knowledge in those areas is pretty limited. There are others here on AllExerts that can probably answer those questions better.


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