19 Sep 9 Steps for Preparing Your Home’s Plumbing for Vacation
As school ends summer vacations begin. Americans take 657,000,000 long distant trips between Memorial Day and Labor Day every year (North Carolina is actually the 4th most popular vacation location). Unfortunately, while you are away, your home is vulnerable to plumbing failures and water damage.
Water damage accounts for the majority of homeowners insurance claims every year. Many of those claims are a direct result of plumbing failures while families were on vacation.
Before you leave for the beach, the mountains, or Disney World, below are nine quick steps to help prevent plumbing malfunctions and water damage while you’re away:
1) Check for Leaks
Before you leave for summer vacation, inspect your plumbing systems for leaks. You may find leaks…
- Under the house, in a crawlspace or basement
- Underneath sinks in bathrooms and in your kitechen
- Around wet bars and coolers
- Behind or underneath appliances: washing machine, dishwasher, water heaters, etc
- Showerheads, faucets, and around toilet bowls
If you do find a leak, have it repaired as soon as possible and definitely before leaving for an extended period of time.
2) Flush Your Water Heater
Your water heater should be flushed at least once or twice a year, depending on the amount of sediment buildup inside the tank. If your water heater is due to be flushed, it is a good idea to flush it before leaving for an extended period of time.
In addition to flushing your water heater, perform any other routine maintenance to decrease the risk of catastrophic failure while you are away. If your water heater has a “vacation” setting, utilize it while you are away.
3) Turn Off Your Automatic Ice Maker
To prevent potential malfunction and leakage, turn off your automatic ice maker when you leave for vacation.
4) Clean Out Your Refrigerator
Throw away or give away food and drink items that will spoil while you are on vacation. This will help prevent returning to a smelly home. It will also help reduce the potential for harmful and unhealthy mold development.
5) Clean Your Gutters
Gutters help prevent water damage by directing rainwater away from your home’s roofing, soffit, and fascia. In order to reduce the potential for wood rot and mold development, make sure your gutters are free of dirt, leaves, and other debris. Clean gutters ensure that rain from summer downpours will be channeled away from your home.
6) Test the Sump Pump
If your home has a sump pump, test it by pouring a gallon of water into the sump pit. If the sump pump is working, the pump will turn on in a few seconds, dispel the water, and then disengage. If pump does not disengage immediately, or the water is not removed, call a professional as soon as possible.
7) Check and Turn Off Outdoor Faucets and Sprinklers
Make sure your outdoor faucets and sprinklers are not leaking. Otherwise, you could return home to an unnecessarily high water bill. Additionally, if you can, turn off sprinklers while you are away to reduce energy spending and water waste.
8) Clean Garbage Disposal
To avoid returning home to a smelly house, thoroughly clean your garbage disposal by following these steps:
- Flush water through disposal for 30 seconds and allow it to drain.
- Pour ½ of a cup of baking soda into disposal.
- Pour a cup of vinegar into disposal and allow 10 minutes to soak.
- After ten minutes, carefully pour a pot of boiling water down disposal.
9) Turn Off Main Water Supply
Turning off the main water supply to your home will neutralize any leaks or malfunctions while you are away. Obviously, turning off the water supply will interrupt sprinklers, aquariums, and other systems that require a continuous supply of water.
Perform these steps to help ensure your vacation is as worry-free as possible, and that you will not return to a flooded or moldy house. If you are concerned that your plumbing systems are not ready for your family to leave for an extended period of time, contact a licensed, professional plumber.