How to Drain Pipes for Winter

What You'll Need
Monkey wrench
Air compressor or high-powered cans of compressed air

When the brutal cold of winter approaches you will be in a race to drain pipes of water. If you have lived in an area that often sees a significant cold front you know what kind of damage can happen if you do not drain pipes of water. The water inside the pipes can freeze which can cause water to backup and flood your home or cause those same pipes to burst. When this happens you can be without water for a long time and the repairs you will have to make will be very costly. The article that follows will instruct you on how to properly drain pipes in your home to prevent flooding and freezing during the winter.

Step 1 - Turning off the Water Supply

Begin by turning off the various sources that can supply water to the pipes. Start with turning off the main source of the water to your home. It may not be located inside the house. If you cannot locate the main source then contact your local water supply company. They will either tell you where to find the water supply or come out and locate it for you. You can also contact a plumper to find it and shut it off for you. The toilets inside your home can recirculate water so you have to shut off the water to them. On the floor behind the toilet you will see a knob. Turning it clockwise will turn the water off to the toilets.

Step 2 - Drain Pipes of Water

The water may be shut off, but there is still water in the pipes that has to be removed. Go to each toilet in the home and flush them. Remove the tank cover of the toilet and continue flushing the toilet until all the water is drained out of it. It may take several attempts, but it is important to make sure that no water is pooling in the tank. The water will drain from the tank and through the pipes. Go to each sink in the home and turn them on in order to draw the water out. Hot water will take longer to drain because it is being routed through the hot water heater. The final step is to visit all the rooms that have a shower or bathtub. Turn the hot and cold water on for the showers, bathtub and sinks.

Step 3 - Forcing the Water Out

Water can pool in the bends of the pipes so it is important to force the water from the pipes. You can do this with an air compressor or cans of forced air. If your house is more than one floor then it is important to start on the top floor and work your way down. Insert the hose or can inside the main drains of the home and apply bursts of air for several second in each.