Tahoe weather can be unpredictable. The mercury can be in the 40s one day, and dip to below zero a week. Tips for Winterizing Tahoe HomesTemperature swings of 40 to 50 degrees are common here in the mountains, and homeowners are well advised to take double precautions when winterizing their homes. 

I learned this the hard way. One winter we were out of the country, and advised our departing guests to just leave the heat on at the Truckee house. It was December, we'd be home in less than two weeks, and it seemed easier to just leave the heat on than to explain how to shut the water off to the house and drain the pipes. (Almost all homes here in Tahoe are plumbed with a "low point," such that the water can be easily drained from the pipes with the turn of a key.) 

Ten days later, we arrived home to a flood. The house was warm, and the main lines were all intact. But temps in the attic must have dipped to well below freezing because a thin water line feeding the steam shower froze and ruptured. Water cascaded for days down three stories destroying hardwood stairs, hardwood floors, and more. It was a $26,000 lesson that I have passed on to many of my clients.

If you have forced air heat, you can't be sure that the furnace will stay lit ... high winds can blow out a pilot light ... and the best bet is to always turn off the water and drain the lines. (Open the cold water faucets to drain any remaining water.) And as a double precaution, put a little of the pink windshield wiper fluid (rated for below zero temps) in the toilet traps and drains. That might seem like overkill, but it's a lesson other clients of mine learned in a recent winter, when three of their toilets froze and broke.

Tips to Winterize toilets in Tahoe

If you drain the pipes and turn the heat off when you leave your Tahoe home, be sure to bring the house back up to temperature before turning the water back on to allow any frozen water in the pipes to melt.

A cup of the pink (below zero rated) windshield wiper fluid in the traps can save a lot of $$$ 

Anti-Freeze helps keep your Tahoe home safe

1. Turn off the main water valve

2. Open cold water faucets to drain water trapped in the lines

3. Pour a cup of cup of the pink (below zero rated) windshield wiper fluid in drains and traps

4. If you turn the heat off completely, be sure to warm the home to temperature before turning the water back on.

5. In the Fall, be sure to disconnect hoses from bibs and shut any foundation vents to protect pipes beneath the house. In especially windy areas, electrical heating cables can be coiled around vulnerable pipes and plugged in at the onset of winter to keep them from freezing.

Posted by Jackie Ginley on


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