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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    3

    Question Antifreeze in Pipes when Winterizing

    We have a vacation home in central NH which up to now we have left heated at 50 degrees over the winter when it is unoccupied. With the price of oil so high, I'd like to leave the heat off. The heating pipes have antifreeze already, however, when I drain the house I need to use antifreeze in all the sinks, toilets, tub drains, etc. I'm concerned about the toxicity of antifreeze, first, to humans, as it will be in every drain, and,second, to the environment when it drains into the septic system in the spring. How can I find out if this stuff is REALLY safe?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,159

    Default Re: Antifreeze in Pipes when Winterizing

    Non-toxic antifreeze is sold for use in RV & boat water lines. Regular antifreeze shouldn't be a problem in the drains, although I don't know the ramifications to a septic tank. Except to say that I've used small quantities to keep a toilet bowl from freezing & cracking and to keep traps from freezing.
    On our summer house all the other water lines were drained down including the well pump & toilet tank. Granted my father was a plumber & was involved with building the house, so he sloped the water lines & provided plugs & T's were they needed to be to allow the water to drain. These were left open so any residual water & condensation would drain.
    The only problem I had was a cracked toilet bowl once and a few split pipes when I forgot something. The secret for the toilet is to be sure the antifreeze gets into the bowl from the tank.
    This house was in Maryland so the winters aren't as nasty as New Hampshire, but it often got down to the teens and sometimes to 0.
    If the house is relatively small, maybe a few extra drains could be added to the water lines & they could be blown out with air. I always covered the open plugs with paper towels to keep out bugs.
    In general you just have to figure out where water will be & drain it or antifreeze it.
    You may get a split pipe or popped trap, so be carefull when you turn the water back on.
    Once you knew the system it only took about 2 hours to winterize the place. A bit longer in the spring to hook it all up again. Drain the water heater & disconnect. The water lines from the pump were above the frost line, so they had to be drained back to the pit.
    It may sound like a lot, but considering the cost of heating the place, it was worth it. Besides it only has a fireplace for heat.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    3

    Smile Re: Antifreeze in Pipes when Winterizing

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Fortunately, when built, the house was plumbed to drain easily, so that's a plus.

    I'm still skeptical about the "non-toxic" claim for RV antifreeze. Who says? Have they been carefully evaluated? I hesitate to accept the manufacturer's claim without some sort of environmentally and health oriented organization's confirmation.

    fvincent

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