After a relaxing vacation, the last thing that you want when you get back into town is to find that there is flooding in your home or there has been some other kind of flooding disaster. Unfortunately, this nightmare is an all too real occurrence for many homeowners returning home from an extended vacation. Therefore, it is critical that you take steps to prepare your plumbing before you go out of town, as taking certain precautions can prevent a potentially disastrous plumbing leak from flooding your home while you are away. In addition to packing sunscreen and your travel documents, make sure to add the following five steps to your pre-vacation to-do list.
Shut Off the Main Water Valve
The easiest way to prevent extensive water damage to your home while you are away is to turn off your home’s main water valve whenever you go out of town. This is a simple step that takes seconds, but it can prevent costly damage to your home should a leak occur, as no water will supply your home’s plumbing once you shut off this valve. If you leave this valve on when you go out of town and one of your appliances was to spring a leak, your washer hose was to burst, or a toilet valve started to leak, water could end up gushing in your home for days until you get back.
In the weeks before you plan to go out of town, take the time to locate your main water valve and test it to make sure that it is working properly. The location of a home’s water valve can vary greatly, but it is likely to be near your water heater or on the perimeter of your home where the municipal water supply comes in. Make sure that everyone in your home knows where your home’s main water valve is and how to shut it off in case of an emergency.
Drain Water Lines if Travelling in Winter
If you plan on travelling during winter, it is particularly important that you take certain precautions to prepare your home’s plumbing, as your pipes could potentially freeze and burst as temperatures drop. While many people may think that turning off their heating system while they are away is a great way to save money, it is crucial that you leave the temperature inside your home no lower than 56 degrees while you are gone to keep your pipes warm. Additionally, when travelling in winter it is particularly important that you not only turn off your main water valve, but that you also drain your water lines before you go out of town. After you turn off your water valve, simply open the faucets in your home to drain the remaining water out of your pipes. This simple step will ensure that your house does not flood, even if your pipes freeze while you are away.
Shut Off Individual Appliance Water Valves
Of course, in some instances, you may find that turning off the water to your home is impractical, such as if you are travelling in the summer, and you have a sprinkler system that needs to continue watering your lawn while you are away. If this is the case, another option is to simply turn off the water to individual appliances within your home, as this can reduce the risk of your home flooding if one of these appliances were to malfunction or have a line burst while you are away. Make a checklist for yourself of valves that need turning off before you leave to ensure that you are not forgetting any. In addition to appliances such as your dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine, you should also turn off the water valves for your toilets and individual sinks. This can help minimize the risk of water damage occurring in your home while you are gone.
Test Your Sump Pump
If you have a sump pump in your home, another simple way to protect your home from flooding while you are out of town is to test your sump pump before you leave to make sure it is working properly. Your home’s sump pump is meant to kick in automatically if there is a leak in your home, or if a heavy storm starts to cause flooding while you are away. Fortunately, it is easy to check your sump pump before you go out of town. Simply fill a bucket with water, take the lid off your sump pump pit, and pour the water into it. The sump pump should kick in immediately and start to pump the water out of your home. If it does not kick in, it is critical that you schedule to have it repaired or replaced before you go out of town.
Ask Someone to Check on Your House While You Are Away
Even if you have taken steps to secure your home against a potential leak while you are away, it couldn’t hurt to have someone stop by and check on your home occasionally while you are gone. If you have a neighbour, friend, or relative that you trust who would be willing to look around your home every few days while you are gone, this could help you catch plumbing problems and have them fixed before they cause damage to your home. As a bonus, a house sitter can check on your plants, bring in your mail, and increase the security of your property by making it look like someone is still home.
After an extended vacation, you do not want to return home to extensive water damage. Fortunately, taking preventive measures in the days leading up to your trip can go a long way in reducing the likelihood that your home will flood while you are gone. Feel free to contact us to learn more about the steps that you can take to prevent a leak in your home while you are out of town, or if you do have an issue we have plumbers available for emergency situations.