Gearing up for a vacation is an exciting process, and it’s also important to get your home ready for your time away. In particular, your plumbing needs preparation before you leave to reduce the chance of water damage to your home. Completing several essential tasks can provide the necessary protection and assurances that your plumbing systems won’t leak or fail in your absence. Follow our tips to ensure your plumbing system remains intact while you are away.
Inspect Your Plumbing Fixtures
Begin your preparation process by inspecting all your plumbing fixtures and components: faucets, sink drain pipes, toilets, shower heads, tub spigots, washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, outdoor faucets and any other ones.
Make sure the fixtures work properly and shut off promptly, and they don’t exhibit signs of leaks or damage. Check that the fixture’s water pipes and drain systems are connected, clean and dry.
Check for Leaks
Once you’ve finished inspecting your plumbing fixtures and presumably checking for leaks, it’s time to perform another test. Many leaks are often slow enough that we’re unable to immediately notice them, particularly if there’s no visible water damage. There is however, another way to check for leaks.
Your water meter measures water usage at any given time. Note the reading on the device, then turn off your water at the auxiliary shutoff valve. Instruct everyone in your home not to use water for one to two hours. At the end of the time frame, check the reading again on the water meter. If it has changed, then you likely have a leak. The only problem now is you still have to find the source.
Another option is to invest in a smart leak detection system. Such systems detect leaks, alert homeowners and in some cases can even turn off the water to prevent major flooding and water damage. Consider investing in a system that gives you peace of mind whether you’re at home or away enjoying a well-earned vacation.
Test Your Sump Pump
You can also prevent potential water damage by checking that your sump pump functions properly before you leave for your vacation. Pour a bucket of water into the sump pump pit (or the drain that causes your sump pump to kick on) and listen to make sure it turns on and successfully pumps the water out. Reducing the risk of flooding by testing your sump pump is an important step before leaving for vacation.
Prepare Your Water Heater
Visually inspect your tank-type water heater to ensure there are no leaks around the base. These types of water heaters work by heating up the water within the tank to deliver hot water when you need it. That also means it’s constantly heating and maintaining this temperature objective, even when you’re not home. Most versions of tanked water heaters have a vacation mode. This setting lets you reduce the temperature of your water heater so it uses less energy while you’re away.
If yours does not have a vacation mode, you can opt to turn your water heater off entirely. On the other hand, if you won’t be gone for very long and don’t wish to power the appliance off entirely, at the very least you should test the Temperature & Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve. As the water heats within the tank, pressure builds as well. The TPR valve releases excess pressure and a small amount of water to prevent the water heater from exploding (which does happen in rare instances). Since the valve can rust over time, it’s important to carefully test that it’s operational – remember to do so safely as to not burn yourself.
Clean The Gutters of Debris and Leaves
While this is most commonly a fall task, debris and leaves can clog your gutters and downspouts at any time of the year. Clogged gutters can pose several risks to your home. Instead of channeling the water to a downspout where it’s likely to be piped away from your home, it likely overflows at a point more susceptible to poor drainage. Water pooling next to your home can cause a soggy yard, and in extreme cases over time even cracking basement walls and your foundation.
Gutters with trapped water due to a clog also pose problems for your roof. The water can lap up onto the roof, and also seep underneath the shingles and down in between the siding and side of your home. This can cause rot, mold and leaks inside your home.
The problem can worsen when temperatures drop below 32 degrees – water expands as it freezes, and any trapped water will undoubtedly cause greater damage to your gutter system and roof. Prevent such damage by cleaning out your gutters, just make sure you do so safely and with help or contract with one of the many services that will take care of this messy chore for you.
Turn Off Your Water
When leaving your home for long periods of time, particularly in the winter, you may also want to consider turning off your water. Water frozen in pipes can cause them to burst, so any water left within pipes and not drained out can cause floods and water damage to your home.
Some homeowners turn down the heat to conserve energy costs while on a vacation. Since this temperature is often well above freezing, you may contend that your pipes have little of freezing. This is, in fact true. However, in the unlikely event your home loses power due to a winter storm, burst pipes become far more likely. So while it’s often unnecessary to turn off the water at the main auxiliary valve and drain the rest from pipes leading to your fixtures, it’s something to consider when leaving on extended winter vacations.
Prevent avoidable water damage to your home by preparing your plumbing before leaving for vacation. Our to-do list helps to ensure you protect your home with easy preventative measures. If you discover any issues with your plumbing that need rectifying before your vacation, contact Atlas Home Services today.