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How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

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An outdoor shower is a great way to bathe while enjoying the beauty of nature and also increases the sales price of your home. However, even the most basic model will require a little more care especially when winter comes. 

Harsh winter conditions can cause serious problems to your plumbing system, thus, your outdoor shower. That’s why it is important to always winterize your outdoor shower.

But first…

Can you use an Outdoor Shower in the Winter?

Showering outdoors in the summer is refreshing. But in the winter, that’s quite tricky. When there’s snow on the ground and it’s flipping freezing out there, you may not be convinced.

You may decide to try a warm bucket of water and a sponge bath but in the winter when standing barefoot (and naked) on the cold snow, your feet will only get cold so showers will just have to be a few minutes long.

You may also run a hose to power a water heater in the summer but this won’t work if you’re trying to shower outside in winter, because you risk frozen and burst pipes inside the water heater.

So, how can you then use an outdoor shower in the winter? By using a camping shower. An idea would be to build a shower stall with an elevated standing pad and hang the camping shower high enough for a good drenching experience.

How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

Yet designed for camping, they also work great for showering off-grid more generally.

In the winter, you can just heat the water yourself indoors, then fill the camping shower with hot water, carry the water bag outside to the shower stall, hang it, strip down, and take a quick shower. How simple!

This option, however, is alright if you’re comfortable showering outdoors. Just know that it can be risky as the cold can be too much. So, keep your showers short.

When Should I Winterize My Outdoor Shower?

How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

If you live in an area with very harsh winters, we recommend winterizing your outdoor shower as soon as the ground starts to get cold. More so, the outdoor shower needs to be drained regularly.

But if an area receives mild winters, only drain your outdoor shower when there is a threat of freezing weather.

How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

In the summer, an outdoor shower brings cooling relief from the heat but in the cold of winter, freezing temperatures will burst pipes and damage the shower’s hardware unless this outdoor shower is winterized.

How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

Cold-weather plumbing problems include:

  • Ice and other debris building up and creating blockages on drains or worsening already-present clogs. If the outdoor shower is unused for long periods, these pipes can burst and you’ll need to find a plumber to unclog such a frozen line or even a sewer pipe. 
  • Freezing of poorly-insulated or exposed pipes hence the danger of them bursting. A broken pipe causes expensive repairs and creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew if left unattended.
  • Poor water heater performance: Your water heater works hard all year round, and in the winter, it’s even more due to the demand for hot showers. Without proper water heater maintenance, you’re more likely to experience problems or complete breakdowns in the winter.

If your outdoor shower is in a region that freezes during the winter, the plumbing will need winterizing. Thorough preparation will ensure you’re ready to return your shower to full use within minutes when warmer weather returns in the spring.

Here are steps to take to ensure your outdoor shower is ready for the winter:

1. Drain the Shower Lines

If your shower is connected to a household plumbing system and the house will be vacant for the season, you should drain the whole plumbing system (including the shower).

But if the house will be in use during the winter, you’ll need to install shut-off valves and drains in the feed lines that supply the shower.

To drain the pipes, start by closing the shut-off valves to shut off the water supply to the outdoor shower.

Now, go to the outdoor shower and turn the shower control handles to the open position so that most of the water flows out.

Go back to the supply pipes and find the screw caps of the drains, which are located on the bottom of the pipes on the shower side of the shut-off valves. Unscrew the caps so that any remaining water in the pipes will be released.

You may also blow out the pipes with an air compressor just to make sure that there isn’t any trapped water that will rupture your plumbing.

That way, there won’t be any water in your lines that can freeze when the temperatures get freezing cold.

2. Remove Your Shower Fixtures

If an air compressor is not available to blow excess water out of the pipes and valves, you may want to remove the showerheads, valves and cartridges, hands sprays, foot showers, and hose bibbs, and any other detachable parts.

Store them indoors for the winter as they can be damaged by freezing temperatures. This is also a good time to thoroughly clean them and store them inside. 

Take it further and cover the shower pipes with plumbing tape or old clothes to prevent water, ice, dust, and debris from clogging up the exposed openings/lead-ins.

3. Dry out your Shower Area

You also want to completely dry your shower area because water and ice can severely damage other parts of your shower.

This includes the shower floor so ensure you’ve completely allowed any water to drain away as possible before you close the shower area off for the winter.

How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

4. Close Off For Winter

By now, you should be ready for the winter. You can close off your shower and ensure no water is turned on and close off access to the shower especially if you live in an area that snows.

You can close the door and place a tarp over the exterior of your outdoor shower as an extra layer of protection. And so it does not blow away, you’ll probably want to consider tying the tarp down.


If, by chance, the pipes do freeze in the winter, run a little water through the plumbing to keep them from freezing beyond repair.

Opening the water spigot allows moving water to thaw the pipe. This is a good idea whether the frozen pipe is a hot-water line or cold water line.

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How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

Draining your outdoor shower lines, removing your shower fixtures, and closing off your outdoor shower are the best ways to winterize your outdoor shower.

So, as soon as the ground starts to get dry, especially if your region freezes, close off your outdoor shower and await the spring.

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