Demystifying Your Dewinterizing
A great many people find themselves needing to winterize their homes and boats in the winter. Many hire professionals, and many prefer the DIY route in a bid to save some money. If you're among the latter group, let us be the first to congratulate you on doing it properly and making it through the season!
However, as the Spring approaches, you now need to undo all of your efforts, and then some! Well, perhaps we can assist you with that. This blog will contain some helpful tips to get you on your way to a proper dewinterization. But please keep in mind that a professional service will almost always do a much better job!
For Your Home
Your first step should be preparing to turn the water back on. For this, you should first remove all aerators from faucets. This should easily be done by hand, but if you find a stubborn one, a pair of pliers will come in handy!
Before turning on the water, make sure all of the faucets are in the "Off" position. When winterizing, they should have been left in the "On" position, so be sure to check them all! If you have water-supplied appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, or water softeners, be sure to turn those valves on.
If you have an electric water heater, make certain it is turned off at the breaker box and open the cold water inlet to fill it. Also make certain the pressure relief valve is closed, lest it leak. Go outside and open a hose faucet to help relive pressure on the system before you turn the water on again.
If you have access the the water shutoff at the meter, be sure to turn the water back on slowly. If pressure builds too quickly, it may cause or exacerbate a leak in your system. After the valve is open, make sure you check to see if water is flowing from your hose faucet.
Return to the water heater, and allow it to fill completely before you turn it on. You might want to wait a few minutes for the water to warm before the next step, as you'll be testing the faucets in your house one at a time, cold and then hot. This process will allow you to pinpoint any leaks you may have. Make sure everything is draining properly, and that none of your drains have leaks. This also allows ample water to run through the lines and clear any debris or leftover water. If you filled your line with antifreeze, this is also a good way to be certain the antifreeze is flushed. If you did use antifreeze, make absolutely sure that you run every water faucet possible for a few minutes to ensure a full flush.
Once you have gone through the faucets, you can then turn your toilets back on. Wait for the tanks to fill, then flush a few times. Inspect the base of the toilet for water to ensure you have no leaks. Once this is complete, you can turn off the outside faucet.
You're almost done! Now that you have cleared the pipes of air and let the system run through a bit, it's time to inspect the plumbing at large. Go through the house and inspect every pipe you can. Stop off at the water heater and appliances to be certain there's nothing amiss. If you find any water, you likely have a leak. If not, you're good to go! Your house is dewinterized, and you can use it normally. Now don't forget to put the aerators back on the faucets!
For Your Boat
While a house is one thing, boats are quite another. We highly recommend using a professional service to winterize and dewinterize your boat. Boats are far more complicated than houses. Being less insulated and holding damp, they are far more prone to damages than homes and very likely to have expensive issues if they were not winterized properly. Assuming they were, the process of actually dewinterizing your boat is fairly simple, if a bit time consuming. Just be happy Lake of the Ozarks is freshwater, as the salty ocean brings a whole host of issues all its own! Now, on to the process.
Much like the house, you will want to remove aerators from the faucets and make certain any water-using appliances are connected. If you have a water heater, follow the same procedure outlined above. Then begin filling you water tank!
While the tank is filling, you can install your batteries. Once that's done, run through your electronics to be sure they work, leaving out the water heater and water pumps of course. If you are connected to dock power, this course of action is a bit moot. It might be wise to switch over to batteries before you do the run-through. Check on your water tank frequently to prevent overfilling, or you might have a mess on your hands.
Once the tank is full, turn on the water pumps. Fill the water heater and turn it on. Open one faucet and leave it while the air is purged from the system. Once that faucet is running cleanly, feel free to run the other faucets one at a time. Since boats should have antifreeze run through the system, make sure you run every faucet possible for a full system purge. Don't forget the toilets! As boat owners know, boat toilets must be manually filled. You should run through this process a few times to clear any antifreeze. Also, don't forget any exterior faucets. Once that's done, you should be good to go! Don't forget to put the aerators back on!
Now, on to the engine. This is likely to be the place where you run into trouble. The engine should have have extensive winterizing done on it by you or a professional. Just to be safe, check all fluid levels: oil, coolant, fuel. Also visually examine the lines for any cracks or breaks. If any are seen, cease dewinterizing and get it fixed. If you don't notice anything, feel free to proceed, but keep an eye on things.
You'll want to make sure any and all lines that were removed from the engine are reattached. Make sure there is water ready to run through your engine, either from the lake itself or an external source. It's much easier to do this while in the water though. Make sure your fuel system is primed. This differs from boat to boat, so make sure you have an operators manual on hand to reference for your model. This manual should also be helpful on winterizing and dewinterizing procedures, so feel free to defer to it for any questions.
Once everything is ready, put it in neutral and start it up! You will likely notice a good deal of smoke in your exhaust, but fret not! This is normal after dewinterizing. If it continues, you'll certainly want to shut it off and have a look. Keep an eye on your gauges and make sure everything is normal. If all goes well, leave your boat running just above idle speed and inspect your engine compartment for any leaks. Again, if anything is amiss shut it down and get it fixed. Make sure the exhaust water is running clear and any antifreeze has been flushed out.
Test your engine out; run through forward and reverse (Best done away from the dock) and make sure the safety stop is properly functioning. Test the steering and make sure everything is working properly. Raise the speed and make sure your tilt/trim is working as it should. Assuming everything has gone well, you have successfully dewinterized your boat!