Constantly winterizing and dewinterizing mountain cabin


  #1  
Old 11-03-10, 10:08 AM
F
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Constantly winterizing and dewinterizing mountain cabin

I figured this would be a great place to ask this question, so here it goes. My wife and I have a cabin up in the mountains that we rent out to help offset our costs. This cabin is 3 stories and has 2 bathrooms. It does NOT have central heat/air, but instead has several space heaters as well as propane heaters. We will be renting it sometimes this winter, however it will also be sitting for several weeks completely empty. The cabin is older and the pipes are routed everywhere, including outside walls as well as in the basement/crawlspace area. The previous owners said that they often had a hard time keeping the pipes from freezing when they were living there full time.

It would be very costly, and perhaps a bit risky, to run the space heaters and propane heaters while the cabin is unoccupied. Plus, I am not sure that heat would be sufficient to protect the pipes in the outside walls as well as in the crawlspace. We do have a caretaker who cleans the cabin after the renters leave and can do things for us like shut off/turn on the water for renters. This is what we are thinking, and please feel free to advise if you think it isn't enough.

1) purchase RV antifreeze from Wally World
2) after renters leave, have caretaker shut off the water, then open all faucets including outside hose bibb (lowest point in the cabin)
3) flush toilets after water is shut off
4) pour antifreeze in every drain (sinks+showers) as well as in each toilet

Before the next renters arrive, have him go back to the cabin and turn the water on, then flush toilets/run water to flush out antifreeze.

Thoughts?
 
  #2  
Old 11-03-10, 11:25 AM
GregH's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Manitoba
Posts: 10,237
Received 66 Upvotes on 61 Posts
None of your options are viable.

The anti-freeze will be fine for the drain traps but how are you going to keep the lines in the walls from freezing.
In our area there are many seasonal cabins but they are plumbed for easy draining.
Your problem will be all of the low spots that will not self drain.

It would be possible to TRY to use air to blow out the lines but if you have any low spots at the bottom of a vertical run water still could collect even after blowing.
If you did try to blow out the lines it would require you to study the layout of the plumbing and provide written instructions for your caretaker.

Honestly though, if the previous owners had a problem keeping the lines from freezing maybe re plumbing with drainage in mind would be a good investment.

If you wanted specific suggestions for what you have now you can post some clear pictures of the plumbing to a free site like Photo Bucket and provide a link.
 
  #3  
Old 11-03-10, 12:05 PM
F
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
why would the pipes in the walls freeze if they don't have any water in them? The water is turned off and everything has been drained through the hose bibb. From what I understand, the traps are the problem, and if we fill each of them with antifreeze wouldn't that take care of it?
 
  #4  
Old 11-03-10, 03:53 PM
shacko's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Baltimore County Maryland
Posts: 2,137
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by f4igrad View Post
why would the pipes in the walls freeze if they don't have any water in them? The water is turned off and everything has been drained through the hose bibb. From what I understand, the traps are the problem, and if we fill each of them with antifreeze wouldn't that take care of it?
Unless everything slopes to the hose bib without any turns and up and downs you WON'T get all the water out.
 
  #5  
Old 11-03-10, 05:32 PM
GregH's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Manitoba
Posts: 10,237
Received 66 Upvotes on 61 Posts
I am not sure exactly what you are asking.

If you know that your plumbing is self draining by opening the hose bib then frozen water lines should not be a problem.
Yes, filling the traps with anti-freeze will prevent them from freezing.

You don't tell us much about the plumbing though.
What about the water supply, either the well if you have one or the municipal supply piping and meter???
 
  #6  
Old 11-03-10, 06:57 PM
F
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I will have to check the slope...I am not sure if there are "low" spots in the pipes but I am thinking that if there are, perhaps more antifreeze can be poured in to help fill them?? I am on a community well and there is a shutoff valve at the top of the driveway with a meter on it.
 
  #7  
Old 11-03-10, 07:30 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,964
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
Here in the mountains, most houses have a hose bib on the basement level which will virtually suck the water out if you leave a faucet open on the upper floor. That is not to say the OP's is that way. I will limit my comments because I live in the same area and offer this service, so I don't want to have a conflict of interest.
I do as you indicate by using RV propylene glycol antifreeze in the traps, toilets, and don't forget the washing machine stand pipe. It will go first.
However, you are in for a fight if you rent it during the winter months (my favorite). With no constant source of heat, it is too unpredictable, and the caretaker will go mad if it happens every weekend, which is what you will have to do. You know it gets down into the low teens quite a bit, and any water left in the pipes will freeze.
I have a weekend rental cabin and installed Central HVAC a few years ago. Best investment yet, to keep things "normal".
Figure the cost of the added caretaking in winterizing it every few weeks versus a small heat pump.
 
  #8  
Old 11-03-10, 07:45 PM
F
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Hey Chandler, I appreciate the comments. Our cabin is actually very close to you (down near Alexander's in the Trackrock region), so you are aware of the weather in the area. Are you a plumber, and/or do you specialize in things like this? At this point I would like to pay someone to come out and look at the layout and tell me the best option. A heat pump might be a possibility, but it won't happen in the coming months (we are putting a metal roof on it next week).

Thanks for the advice so far, I appreciate and am listening to all of it.
 
  #9  
Old 11-03-10, 08:11 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,964
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
Yeah, I'm off Plottown on the other end of Trackrock Gap. Our cabin is on property just above the house. Good view of the Arquaqua trail from Brasstown Bald down toward Trackrock Gap. I'll have to stay neutral on the issue due to a conflict of interest, but will give all the advice I can according to forum rules. I agree with checking in the basement to see if all the supply lines have at least some drop toward the outside faucet, because any up kick on the pipes will trap water, even if you do blow them out. Putting a bleed valve on the lowest pipe in the house would help, if the faucet is not the lowest point.
 
  #10  
Old 11-06-10, 02:39 PM
T
Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
We are in the process of purchasing a cabin in the Clarkesville, GA area. It's a foreclosure so we can't get any info from the previous owners. It's a private well, uninsulated crawl space with the water heater and air bladder in the crawl space as well as all the pipes. We don't plan to rent but would like to be able to use it year-round, preferably without having to winterize/dewinterize each trip. HVAC is a small heat pump.

Any thoughts on insulating the foundation walls in the crawl space along with the pipes and letting heat sink through the floor to keep the pipes from freezing? Would rigid foam insulation boards be appropriate? Do we need a vapor barrier on the foundation and if so between the foundation and insulation or on top of the insulation? There is already a vapor barrier on the ground of the crawl space. Thanks
 
  #11  
Old 11-06-10, 06:41 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,964
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
Welcome to the forums, TaddeoEG!! What I do in my cabin, which has exposed pipes as well, is to insulate them as best you can with the foam pieces. This won't guarantee they won't freeze at 15 degrees, however. I take it one step further by adding 100 watt light bulbs in 3 places and have them run through a thermo cube. when the temperature of the crawlspace gets below 35 degrees the lights will come on and produce area heat that will help keep the pipes temperate. At 42 degrees the bulbs extinguish.
Of course I turn the water off, both physically at an underground valve, and at the breaker panel, just in case. My permanent house is only a few hundred yards down the mountain, so I can keep an eye on it in colder weather. Heat pump takes care of the main floor.
Since you are in the south, be sure to close off the foundation vents or replace them with automatic vents. You can go further by placing a cube of styrofoam insulation measuring 8x16 into the hole on the inside during the winter to keep the cold out.

Larry

"Half of communications is listening, and you can't listen with your mouth"
 
  #12  
Old 11-07-10, 05:20 AM
T
Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the welcome and the info, Chandler. I've thought about thermostatically controlled heat strips on the pipes as well. I'm curious - why do you shut off the water? You didn't mention draining the pipes, so what advantage does turning off the pump do? Is it just in case you get a break, so water does shoot everywhere?
 
  #13  
Old 11-07-10, 12:53 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,964
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
IF a pipe were to break, I have little water to flow with the pump not feeding the fire so to speak. If the cabin isn't going to be used during a harsh spell, I do drain the water from the pipes. Pipes can break under the house, in the walls and at the pump 50 yards away. Cut off valve prevents the water from going past it into the house, so all I have is the water in the pipes.

Larry

"Half of communications is listening, and you can't listen with your mouth"
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: