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Old 02-05-2009, 12:31 PM   #1
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Winterize Home


Hi all,
We're midway thru building a second home that's in Downeast Maine. (Nights can and do drop to -20)
We'll be wrapping up the plumbing (using Pex for supplies and PVC for drains) soon and will then be ready for drywall. The well's not be placed yet as I can test the systems with air and am hesitant to have the well done at the moment.
So I have 3 concerns:
1) The Drywall, I've spoken to one builder/contractor and he said to keep the place heated or they'll be cracks. Huh! Really? (btw, it's Poly-Spray Foam insulated so that should add integrity to the structure.)
2) The Well, is it adequate to just shut the main valve where it'll enter the home? It'll be a submersible pump. I'm concerned most about how to protect this issue. Are there any precautions that the well driller can take to guarantee no winter issues when it's shut down?
3) Really not a concern, but winterizing the Plumbing sounds easy enough, there's tons of people on the web with info there. (basically Drain, Antifreeze the traps traps, etc.) So is there more to this?

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Old 02-05-2009, 12:50 PM   #2
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You should always keep a house heated. The contracting and expanding of materials from -20 to 85 will have an effect, and it does cause cracks in drywall.

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Old 02-05-2009, 01:14 PM   #3
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If the house is not heated then the water line coming into the house is likely to freeze.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:04 PM   #4
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Ayuh,...

Not only All the plumbing In the house,...
But the plumbing Up to the house, has to be drained to Below frost level...

Using compressed air to blow any standing water from the lines is Good insurance against frozen, busted fittings come spring..

Drywall isn't a Great choice of wall covering for seasonal houses...
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:05 PM   #5
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I'm going thru the first winter of a seasonal cabin in a similar climate, so I can offer a little advice:

1. Install heat trace cable on your incoming water line up to a location where you can drain down the piping. Install a valve where your water line enters the house so you can drain down the piping completely. You mentioned you have a well, so you don't need to worry about draining down and protecting a water meter.
2. Shut off the breaker to your well when you leave just in case.
3. RV antifreeze is your friend. Fill all your plumbing traps. If you have a clothes washer, dump some in the tub and manually start a rinse cycle to push the antifreeze through the pump. Similar for a dishwasher.
4. See if you can get a neighbor or hire a service to clear the driveway through winter. People will be less likely to snoop around and cause trouble if it looks lived in.

If you can afford it, keep the heat set at 50 year round. I decided to "save" a few bucks and shut off my heat in December. Even though I drained down my plumbing, there were still a few areas that trapped water that I couldn't drain. I spent a few hours fixing broken water lines instead of enjoying my relaxation time away from home. The extra $ on heating would have saved me a headache and scrambling to make repairs.

Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bondo View Post
Ayuh,...

Not only All the plumbing In the house,...
But the plumbing Up to the house, has to be drained to Below frost level...

Using compressed air to blow any standing water from the lines is Good insurance against frozen, busted fittings come spring..

Drywall isn't a Great choice of wall covering for seasonal houses...
No Drywall - then what? It still has to meet code for Fire and Health, There's got to be thousands of unheated seasonal homes in Maine let alone other states. I question the reality of cracks since it is Spray-foamed too. Are there special construction techniques to help mitigate the potential. For instance, the exterior Aluminum Flashing hasn't seen any issues besides minor little buckles that come and go - that was discussed with the siding Contractor and he used extra nails to combat that issue. Perhaps Glue plus Screws on the Drywall will cause the thermal expansion to really be confined to just 1 Bay at a time.

The Well's not in yet but I'm still in a fog about how to insure anything from the valve at the wall on in for some distance into the ground doesn't freeze.

The Antifreeze in the traps and washer is easy enough, the whole house can drain back to the Main Valve(s) with no problem.

Stubborn1 - I'd certainly like to have more dialogue with a hands-on experience. Any additional tricks? The heat tape sounds great, but if it fails, then it's an issue. The neighbors do keep an eye on it but can't really make visits into the house do to snow/slip/fall concerns.

Thanks All - any publications that really sink it's teeth into this?

I'm not looking fwd to heating it in any manner.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:30 PM   #7
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I have a trailer located in Michigan which we use in the summer, I have blown out my pipes and then repaired frozen split copper, best is to fill all lines with RV antifreeze. be sure to drain and bypass the hotwater heater and follow all the above advice as to placing RV antifreeze into washer, dishwasher, toilets, and all sink traps. it is the least expensive treatment you will ever pay for.
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Old 02-10-2009, 08:21 AM   #8
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You can add all the screws and glue you want, you'll still get expansion and contraction. We glue our interior walls when we board no screws just nail the outside edges with ring nails or screws. This will at least limit nail or screw pops. If it's just a seasonal home, just live with the odd crack that materializes.

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Old 02-10-2009, 10:13 AM   #9
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As mentioned. Everything expands and contracts. Keeping the interior of the structure warm would keep it dried out year round and reduce the amount of movement the building will go through. No amount of screws and glue will prevent it from happening without heat.

If you aren't going to heat and can't live with the occasional crack then forget drywall and go with a panel or some type of board. Ideally a tongue and grove. T&G will move and not show any signs of it.

Good advise above for the winterizing of plumbing.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:04 PM   #10
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Thanks all!

Odd and occasional cracks are fine, I have them in my primary home just from settlement and/or drying wood.

I had visions of all the joints breaking and the tape and mud flaking off. I can use some crown moulding to help out too.

One builder mentioned structural corners rather than the traditional metal ones - what are they and is there any good/bad info on that?

Last edited by dazataz; 02-10-2009 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:03 PM   #11
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Check out http://www.no-coat.com/

We use the flex for vaults all the time. It is a bit pricey though.
Cheers

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