How to Winterize a Toilet

Got a bathroom that can reach freezing temperatures? Or do you have a cabin up north that gets super cold during the winter months? The rest of the toilet may survive the cold weather, but freezing water in your toilet bowl and its tank can damage your plumbing system. This article will guide you through winterizing a toilet in detail. 

Winterizing a toilet requires you to empty the bowl and the tank and use antifreeze to protect your plumbing. You can also take other measures like ensuring a warm temperature throughout the house. If you fail to winterize your toilet, you might have to replace your toilet and plumbing due to damage when spring comes. 

Whether you’re going away for the winter months or have a nice little cabin in a snowy area, you will need to take precautions to winterize your toilet to avoid plumbing damage. Frozen water in the toilet and the plumbing system can expand and potentially damage your accessories and piping permanently. The key is to take the proper steps to winterize your toilet on time. 

How to Winterize Your Toilet in 3 Steps

As a homeowner, your toilet may be the last thing on your mind when preparing the home for the chilly months. However, any water in the toilet or the draining pipes can cause the lines to expand and burst. All this will simply mean a lot of replacement expenses for plumbing and toilet seats. It’s best to prevent this from happening. Here is how you can easily winterize your toilet in three easy steps: 

draining the toilet tank

Step 1 – Drain Tank 

The very step is to make sure you don’t have to use the toilet in question again. Once you’re confident that you’re done using the toilet, it’s time to drain the tank of all the water. The toilet’s back has a ballcock or a fill valve control. This control is what fills up your tank and lets water in. 

For emptying the tank, you need to flush it out. Ensure the valve is closed when you flush it so that it doesn’t get filled up with water again. The valve is right on the wall or floor near your toilet, so you shouldn’t have much trouble locating it. 

Once this is done, you need to take the tank’s lid off and then start flushing so you can see if the water is being flushed out down to the last drop. Make sure you keep flushing until all the tank water has drained down the pipe. 

Toilet Bowl with very little water

Step 2 – Drain Toilet Bowl 

So you’re done draining the tank, but there’s still some water remaining in your toilet bowl? Be careful when doing this because things can get a little messy, so it’s best to have a toilet or a cloth placed around the toilet. 

Get a bucket filled with 3-5 gallons of water and add this slowly to the toilet bowl as you watch it drain down the toilet. 

This water you’re going to add from above will take the remaining water in the toilet bowl down the drain. Once this water is drained, you can use a towel or a sponge to take out any remaining traces of water in the bowl. 

pouring antifreeze to toilet tank

Step 3 – Add Antifreeze 

Now that all the water is drained from the tank and the bowl, you need to add the antifreeze. Get a non-toxic antifreeze for this purpose. Make sure you wear protective gear on your eyes to avoid any antifreeze splashing in your eyes.

You will add the antifreeze to the toilet tank, not the bowl. Hold the flush level and flush the antifreeze down to the drain pipes as you add it to the tank. 

Steps to Winterize Your House’s Plumbing 

Just winterizing your toilet isn’t enough. You need to winterize the entire plumbing system if you aren’t going to use it during the winter months actively. Here are some steps you need to follow to do this: 

man turning off the water supply valve to prevent water from flowing
Image from Speake’s Plumbing
  1. Turn the main water valve off. Turn off the water pump and heater to protect the main elements in the heater when the tank’s empty. 
  2. The next step includes opening all the valves and taps in the house. These should remain for the rest of winter. Any closed taps or valves will create an unnecessary vacuum in the pipes that can hold water inside. 
  3. Use an air compressor to blow out all the excess water in your drain pipes.
  4. Drain all the water out of the hot water tank by opening its discharge valve. If your hot water tank doesn’t have a floor drain, you will have to attach a garden hose to it. 
  5. You need to drain all the water from the rubber diaphragm in the holding tank. Add some antifreeze to the jet pump case as a precautionary measure.
  6. Flush all the toilets to ensure all water is drained from them. Add antifreeze to the tank to prevent the bowls from cracking. 
  7. Look at all the tub and sink drains that have drain traps. Add antifreeze to each drain trap in the house to ensure ice doesn’t damage the pipes. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

frozen toilet tank
Image from North Yorkshire Weather Updates

1. Why do you need to winterize your toilet? 

If you don’t winterize your toilet, you put your plumbing and toilet accessories at risk of being damaged by the freezing water in the plumbing. 

 2. Can you use antifreeze for a toilet? 

You can add a non-toxic antifreeze to your toilet to prevent any remaining water in the pipes, tank, or bowl from freezing and damaging your accessories or pipes. Make sure you flush out all the water and then add the antifreeze to the tank while flushing so it can drain down the lines. 

  3. How much antifreeze is required to winterize one toilet?

You will need one pint of antifreeze to winterize each toilet in your house. It is best to ensure that the antifreeze drains down the pipe to protect the plumbing. 

Final Thoughts 

Your toilet accessories are expensive, and it’s best to take every possible measure to protect them. Winterizing your toilet will protect your plumbing and toilet bowl from excessive damage during the winter months when it’s not in use. We hope our tips and step-by-step guide help you winterize your toilet and protect it from winter damage. 

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