Hablab Winterization

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If HabLab is not in use over the winter, it will freeze inside, and water pipes can burst.

Water pipes may include hydronics, hot water heating, showers, toilets, and sinks. Also, Care must be taken to make sure that the outside water connection does not freeze. Moreover, since the main water line runs next to the house under the shallow insulated footer - care must be taken to assure that the pipes next to the house are not exposed above the shallow insulated footer insulation. The outside water connection in in a pit on the northeast corner of HabLab.

To prevent risk of burst pipes, this is the recommended procedure:

  1. Hydronic system, once installed, should be filled with antifreeze, at least 30% concentration, and should be circulated through the system before shutting off water supply.
  2. Shut off water to the Hablab by turning off a 1" valve in the outside pit by the hydrant.
  3. Crack the hydrant fitting next to the water shutoff so that water from Hablab and hydrant can drain to the pit. Note that the hydrant is already freeze-proof (water in stem of hydrant leaks out a weephole at the bottom if the hydrant is turned off). However, the bottom part of hydrant by the weep hole is not winter proof. In cases of extreme freeze, the bottom portion of the hydrant can freeze, and so can the part of the water feed line to Hablab that is exposed in the pit.
  4. Put a scumbag on it. Use a tarp and straw to cover over the hydrant and pit. The pit can freeze if there is cold air getting inside the pit.
  5. Next, open the sinks, showers, and flush all toilets so water drains out in the house.
  6. Break one side (hot or cold) on the water heater to make sure that water drains out of the hot water heater.


  1. If there are no use in winter, Hablab should be winterized Nov 1 of each year - which is prior to the first frost date.
  2. If there is use in winter, winterization is not necessary as long as there is indoor heat.


  1. The hot water heater can still explode by cold air getting in through the exhaust pipe on cold nights <0F
  2. Solution for this is still outstanding. The water heater is simply not designed for low temperatures. One possible solution is automated night time draining when the temperature goes below 0F, or manual draining on such nights. The system design must consider such a possibility.
  3. For winterization, a valve system for draining the water heater without opening the fittings is a natural improvement - essentially installing a cleaning system for the water heater, which should be done anyway.
  4. The open source solution is an open source, freeze proof, drainable design.