Dewinterizing a Home

Home Inspector with Colby Home Services

Dewinterizing Your Home Guide By Brian K Doles of Colby Handyman Services & Inspections


Winterize – To prepare a homes plumbing system for colder winter months.

De-Winterize – To “charge” the plumbing system for everyday use.

Charge – To fill piping with water.

Many foreclosed homes that remain vacant will be most likely be “winterized”. This is to prevent damage due to freezing pipes in colder months. When the plumbing system is winterized it’s main purpose is to drain all the water from the system including the hot water heater. When you’re purchasing a foreclosed home or a home that has been winterized, it’s very important to have all the utilities turned on prior to a Home Inspection. More importantly the plumbing system should be active and working to inspect for leaks. To download my guide to "Dewinterizing Your Home" click the link below.



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Rick Tourgee
Robert Paul Properties, Inc. - Provincetown, MA
Provincetown and Cape Cod
Many properties up here at the tip of Cape Cod are second homes.  Thus, they are vacant for most of the winter.  I always advise my Clients to consider winterizing in October or November.  Then dewintering in April or May.  Of course, this work should be done by a licensed plumber and licensed electrician.
Feb 14, 2008 10:54 AM #1
Gary J. Rocks
Juba Team Realty - Jefferson Township, NJ


Thanks for the info, its always nice to have useful info to give to clients.

Feb 14, 2008 10:59 AM #2
Brian Doles
Colby Home Services - Marietta, GA

Very true Rick. Also a side note is that inspectors will not turn on any utilities prior to an inspection. Many clients don't understand the liability that comes with this.

So, yes a licensed plumber/electrician should be the one taking care of this.

Feb 14, 2008 10:59 AM #3
Rosario Lewis
DDR Realty - Newburgh, NY
GRI, SRES - DDR Realty - Orange County, NY
Plumbing is such a major component of a home, I can't imagine a home inspection that does not include a thorough inspection of  the plumbing.
Feb 14, 2008 11:10 AM #4
Brian Doles
Colby Home Services - Marietta, GA

Yes plumbing is one, if not the most important item in an inspection.  That is why I stress to buyers and agents that all utilities are turned on at least the day before the inspection.

But I have arrived at inspections where the water is not turned on, in that case I will return at a later date for the plumbing inspection (for an additional fee).

Feb 14, 2008 11:17 AM #5
Experienced REO Professional

I agree with your steps for de-winterizing a home that is winterized except for the first step is left out.  Before turning on the water at the well or street, the plubming system needs to be air pressure tested to see if it can hold pressure.  If it can not hold air pressure then it will not hold water pressure.  Water does damage and potentially major damage as air does not.  A home that is indicated as being winterized does not indicate that it was properly winterized, has no leaks, or was not vacant the prior winter.  In this day of age, copper has been found to removed from a lot of homes.  If you do not know what you are looking for, you may miss something and cause a liability issue if water is spraying everywhere.  Hire a licensed plumber (not a Handyman) and ask them to air pressure test the system before turning on the water.  It is worth the money to save your butt from getting into high water if you know what I mean.

May 09, 2008 09:22 AM #6
Charmayne @ Key Real Estate

Thank you for posting so much information.  You have been a wonderful resource for me personally as well as my clients.

Jan 27, 2009 12:36 PM #7

Thanks for this VERY helpful information, by far the most thorough I have found in my googling. I will hopefully be dewinterizing my newly purchased property this weekend and just wondered if anyone has any recommendations about the pace of returning heat to the home. Is it okay to set the thermostat to 60 and let the furnace do its thing, or should I heat more incrementally over the course of a few days? I'm in Chicago area, temps in the teens and heat has been off since Nov. Thanks again for the great site.

Feb 03, 2009 08:38 AM #8
Edward Johnson@ All City Home Inspection, Mpls.

I have been in the Home inspection business for going on 8 years with a degree in BIT. In all my years I can say that most homes are not winterized correctly. To correctly winterize a home so you have a higher success ratio for non frozen pipes the water system needs to be preasurized with air to blow out any remaining water that may sit in the low areas of the piping. To often the company will do a winterizing service and leave there disclaimer behind stating that with the harsh winters of Minnesota they can't be held responsible for breaks in the lines. When I come into Dewinterize or to do a prepurchase home inspection and I find leaks when ever possible I will call the Co. to get information on their procedure, the air preasurizing for the winterizing was not done on most of these homes. Unfortunately this adds a big cost factor to someone in the final sale. 

Feb 16, 2009 10:52 PM #9
Jenn Jessop

For aditional tips on de-winterizing your house visit this ehow web artical:

Mar 11, 2009 02:02 PM #10

Hi! I just discovered this blog in a google search for how to de-winterize a foreclosed home. I tried downloading your guide, but it seems that the file is no longer available. Would you be able to email it to me? Or repost it?

Thank you so much!

Mar 11, 2009 03:51 PM #11

Hi Brian,

Id like a copy of your checklist too if possible. I tried the link for the PDF in the opening paragraphs and like Monika, I was unable to download it. Thanks in advance, Joe

Apr 22, 2009 08:17 AM #12

Here's the PDF:

May 08, 2009 01:29 PM #13

Hi I am trying to print a copy of your guide and the link is no longer available. Are you still offering the checklist for dewinterizing homes?



Jun 29, 2009 02:54 PM #14
Jim Holmes

Great info for a 1st time home owner. Thanks!

Sep 28, 2009 05:29 PM #15
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Brian Doles

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