STEVE MAXWELL: Faster, simpler, safer cottage water winterizing
Nov 22, 2019 By The Clozer
If you’ve got a cottage, trailer or seasonal home, fall is the time of year for winterizing the water system. The trick is making it happen easily and reliably, and this is where a completely different approach might make sense for you.
As a life-long cottage person who now lives in cottage country full time, I know that winterizing a water system is not just about getting water out of pipes. It’s also about worry. ‘Did I drain all the water out?’ ‘Will I have to fix broken pipes in the spring because water remained?’ Based on what I see from my seasonal neighbours, there’s good reason to be anxious.
Out of the five cottages I know best, at least one will have a broken pipe each year. In the spring of 2018, for instance, one cottage owner I know had pipes broken in five different places because freezing water cracked them. Another friend has used compressed air to blow out cottage pipes each fall for 10 years, yet this past spring for the first time we discovered a main valve had cracked wide open over the winter because it somehow had water in it. He didn’t drain the system any differently than usual, but somehow trouble happened anyway. And it’s all because water is an unusual liquid.
Like most other liquids, water shrinks as it cools. But unlike other liquids, when that cooling continues below 4º C, water increases in volume with further decreases in temperature. When that same water cools down to 0º C and changes from liquid to solid, it suddenly expands by a whopping nine per cent. No pipe, pump or fitting can contain the expansive power of freezing water.
One reason draining pipes is so risky is because pipes that are emptied of water in October don’t necessarily stay empty in November or December. Condensation is the reason why. It can sometimes occur within pipes as temperatures fluctuate from warm to cold during fall. If enough condensation develops to fill low spots, you’ll have a repair job come spring.
Filling seasonal water pipes with non-toxic plumbing anti-freeze is the best way I know to beat the uncertainty of plumbing roulette. Back in 2013 a Canadian plumber named Brian Feeney thought the same thing. He’d spent years fixing broken pipes each spring, and that experience prompted him to invent what he calls The Clozer and a companion device called the TC3.
Imagine something the size of a small toolbox with a reservoir that holds antifreeze. This is the Canadian-made Clozer. Connect it to simple fittings installed in your pipes, fill the reservoir with antifreeze, plug the unit into power, then walk from fixture to fixture, turning them ON one by one. As soon as a faucet, washing machine, dishwasher or water dispenser valve is open, it remotely activates the internal pump in The Clozer. Leave the fixture open until you see pink antifreeze come out, then shut OFF the faucet and move to the next one.
The TC3 is a simple companion device that allows the main, outdoor intake line of seasonal water systems to be filled with plumbing antifreeze, too. It saves the hassle of emptying the pipe that draws water from your lake, river or well. The TC3 includes a small diameter tubing that extends down all the way through the intake line to the end. Hook The Clozer up to the TC3 and it’ll inject antifreeze from the bottom end of the pipe all the way to the top, displacing water as it does. Visit baileylineroad.com/winterizing-cottage-water for a video that shows how it all works. Come spring, simply turn your water pump ON, run the system until water clear runs from all fixtures, and you’re ready to enjoy the cottage without getting pipes fixed.