Winterizing your house is important in cases where it will be vacant for extended periods of time — for example, when you’re leaving your vacation home for the season or leaving your main home to go on a months-long trip.
De-winterizing a house, then, is equally important once you return. Much of de-winterization is simply reversing the winterization process you followed before — but there are certain steps to take to ensure it’s done safely and without causing damage to your home.
In the sections that follow, we’ll walk through how to de-winterize your home in 11 simple steps.
- Your water supply should be turned on gradually to avoid overwhelming the pipes.
- The de-winterization process is a good time to clear your roof and gutters.
- Fixtures and appliances should be double checked once the water, gas, and electric systems are back up and running.
- Replacing storm window panes with screens is the best way to air out your home after it’s been closed for the winter.
How to De-winterize Your House the Right Way
Remove aerators and reconnect water supply
Even though you’ve turned your water off for the winter season, there will be some buildup behind the aerators over your spigots and faucets. Before you begin any other steps to turn the water supply back on, remove all aerators to let the buildup drain.
Next, you’ll want to reconnect all flex tubes to their fixtures. Take time to carefully inspect all flex tubes, valves, and fixtures to ensure they look secure and show no signs of leaks or damage.
All valves should remain fully in the off position during these first steps.
Turn on the main water supply gradually (and only halfway)
Once you’re certain all tubes and pipes have been connected properly, you can turn on the main water supply. It’s important to do this gradually to avoid overwhelming your pipes and causing a potential leak. Give the valve a slight turn (about one-eighth of a full turn), then wait 10 seconds before doing it again. Repeat this process until the valve is halfway on.
Turn the water on for your water heater, boiler, and softener
The water supply for your water heater, boiler, and softener will typically come from a separate valve located near their connecting pipes. After you’ve turned on the main water supply, you can do the same for these appliances. It’s best to follow the specific manufacturer instructions for each appliance during this step.
Flush plumbing fixtures one at a time
Next, you’ll want to go from fixture to fixture in your home (all sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets) to run the water until it’s clear. It may take up to a few minutes after you turn a fixture on for it to run totally clear.
Repeat this process for all outdoor fixtures as well (hose spigot, outdoor showers, etc.).
Turn the water supply on fully
After you’ve tested all indoor and outdoor fixtures, you can turn the water supply on fully. To be safe, follow the same gradual turning process for the valve, pausing for about 10 seconds after each turn to control the new flow of water.
Double check indoor and outdoor plumbing
Once the water supply is fully on, it’s a good idea to double check every indoor and outdoor fixture again. This time, look out for any potential water pressure issues as low pressure can be an indicator of a leak.
Turn on electrical circuits and check outlets and appliances
Now that you’ve got your water supply back on, it’s time to move on to the electric. Many homeowners choose to leave only the essential electric circuits running when their home is winterized. That means other individual circuits will need to be flipped back on.
Go to your circuit breaker, note which circuits have been shut off, and turn them back on one by one.
Test all outlets
After the electric is fully turned on, go throughout the house to plug in lamps, alarm clocks, appliances — anything else that has been unplugged for the winter. Test out each outlet to be sure it’s still working properly.
When you plug in large appliances (like your oven), take some extra time to test them out. Turn to manufacturer instructions if you experience any issues getting them to function as normal.
Turn on the gas
Gas is the last system to get back up and running. Gas is turned off in most winterized homes to avoid the risk of a dangerous gas leak while the house is uninhabited.
Depending on where you live, the gas supply may be completely shut off (in warmer climates, mainly) or closed at local valves near each fixture (in colder climates where the furnace has to stay on low to prevent freezing).
Be sure to open local valves when needed, then turn the gas back on.
Check your roof and gutters
Winter weather can lead to buildup of leaves and other debris throughout the season. During the de-winterization process is a good time to check your roof and gutters and clean them out thoroughly to prevent issues like clogs or flooding.
Replace storm windows with screens
Last but not least, open the windows and enjoy the spring air! Glass panes in your storm windows are necessary to protect your home from winter wind and other elements. During the warmer months, replace these panes with screens to let fresh air circulate in your home.