During the cold winter months, vacant properties without electricity are typically winterized to keep pipes from freezing and bursting.
Winterizing properties can be done in a few ways. Most typically, the water is first shut off at the meter. Then, the water is drained and an air compressor is used until the supply and drain lines are completely emptied. Finally, a special non-toxic anti-freeze solution is filled into the drain traps. Sometimes, companies will go an extra step and disconnect the hot water heater, dishwasher, and washing machine.
To de-winterize a property, it is best to contact the company that winterized it originally to come out and reverse their steps, as they know exactly how the property was winterized.
Another way to de-winterize a property is to simply run the water. This is what is done during a home inspection. A home inspector will make sure all supply and drain lines are connected prior to turning on the water at the meter. Once the water drains through the lines, this will wash away most or all of the anti freeze – along with allowing water to sit in the supply and drain lines.
A home inspector will shut the water back off prior to the completion of the inspection and will run the water until the supply and drain lines appear free of water. Of course, traces of water can and probably will remain in the supply and drain lines unless an air compressor is used to flush the lines completely. A home inspector will not add anti-freeze to the plumbing system, as it is prohibited unless licensed in the field.
With vacant properties, typically once the electricity is turned on, it will be shut back off within a few days. Once the electricity is shut back off, this will leave the pipes at risk of bursting due to water left in the pipes freezing. And, of course, the heating system can not be turned on without electricity to help keep the water in the pipes from freezing.
Once a home inspection is complete on a vacant property, make sure to re-winterize prior to the electricity being shut off to keep the property’s pipes from bursting.