DIY: How To Winterize Your Toilet In 3 Simple Steps

If you and your family are not going to be home over the winter season, then you ought to take steps to winterize your home’s plumbing system. One of the most critical parts of that system is your toilet. Your ceramic toilet can be significantly damaged by frozen water because ceramic is porous and will crack as water freezes and expands. To prevent expensive accidents, winterize your toilet by following these three steps.

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1. Drain the tank

Before you winterize your toilet, make sure that you won’t need to use it again for a while! Once those physical urges are taken care of, the first thing that you need to do is drain your toilet. The back of your toilet features a control called a fill valve (or ballcock) which is a mechanism used to let the water into the tank. Before you start flushing, make sure that you turn off the cut-off valve that sends water to the toilet tank. This valve is found on the wall or floor near the toilet bowl so you shouldn’t have a problem finding it. Here’s a handy diagram to help you get around the parts of your toilet.


After you shut off the cut off valve, carefully remove the lid/top of the toilet tank and place it on the floor. Removing this piece will help you see how the water is draining as you flush the toilet. You need to flush the toilet and hold down the toilet handle until the water drains out of the toilet tank, where it will start to drain through the pipes. If you notice that water is not draining from the tank, you need to double check the cut-off valve and ensure that it is closed. Only release the toilet handle when all the water is out of the tank.

toilet bowl

2. Drain the toilet bowl

Even after draining the tank, there is usually some water left in the toilet bowl. Here is a tip that you can use to get rid of the rest of the water in the toilet bowl. Be warned! It could get a bit messy, so get some old towels and spread them on the floor to absorb any water that spills. Next, fill a bucket with approximately 3-5 gallons of water, lift it over the toilet bowl and slowly pour the water down into it. You should progressively lift the bucket as you pour to increase the momentum of the water.

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What will happen is that the momentum of the water from the bucket will take with it the water that was in the toilet bowl and all of that water will go into the drainage system, leaving the toilet bowl almost dry. Finally, use a sponge or the old towels to sponge out any remaining water in the toilet bowl.

3. Add plumber’s antifreeze

Now that the water is out, it’s time to add antifreeze. At this point, consider wearing safety glasses to protect yourself from possible splashes. An important point to note is that always remember to use non-toxic antifreeze rated for use on plumbing systems. Bear in mind that you need to pour the antifreeze into the tank and not into the bowl. While you do this, hold down the toilet handle to flush the antifreeze out into the bowl and eventually down the drain system.

After you winterize your toilet…

In addition to winterizing your toilet, you also need to winterize your home’s entire plumbing system. Your plumbing system includes both your home’s hot water system and cold water system. First, shut off the main valve that supplies municipal water to your home. As you do this, make sure that the power is turned off to the water pump and the hot water tank. When you do that, you will protect the heating elements of your hot water tank, so it doesn’t burn out unnecessarily.

It’s also important to open the drain valves and ensure that all the taps, inside and outside are open. If you leave the taps closed it will create a vacuum that holds water in the lines so that the water is unable to drain. Once the taps are open, attach an air compressor to the drain valve to ensure that there is no more water in the pipes. Doing so will help you to blow any excess water back through the open taps.

winter outhouse

Keep your toilet from freezing this winter

When spring comes, you don’t want the nasty shock of replacing your toilet. These steps to winterize your toilet can save you from paying unexpected expenses. Check this to-do off your winterization checklist and keep your toilet from freezing this winter.

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