Vacations offer an escape from the monotony of everyday life. As with all getaways, however, vacations require preparation to ensure your home affairs are in order until you return. One of the most important areas to prepare before leaving for vacation is your plumbing. When returning from a wonderful trip, the last things you want to encounter are burst pipes or other preventable plumbing emergencies. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your pipes while you are away from home.
Inspect Pipes for Leaks
Even the slightest leaks can cause significant water damage if left uncorrected for days or weeks at a time. Check all faucets, fixtures, and pipes for cracks or dripping water prior to your vacation. You should also check under the sink and around toilets. In addition, look for signs of dampness on walls or flooring as well as corrosion near major appliances. If you find any leaks, schedule an appointment with a plumber who can repair the damage. Families who take frequent trips or vacations may also wish to invest in a leak detection system that monitors water flow using methods like mechanical turbines, ultrasonic wavelengths, or laser technology. This type of system can immediately notify you in the event of a leak, enabling you to contact a plumber and thereby avoid flooding disasters.
Close Main Water Valve
If you know you will be away from home for an extended period of time, you may need to turn off the main water supply. This prevents water from running during your absence and eliminates the risk of burst pipes, flooding, and similar problems. You can turn off the water supply by shutting the main water valve, usually located in the basement or crawl space, in the utility room alongside the water heater, or within a water meter box outside of the home. If you cannot find your home’s main water valve, contact a professional plumber for assistance. For additional protection, you may also wish to turn off the individual water valves of appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, ice makers, or laundry machines. Make a note of which valves you have turned off and remember to reopen them once you return home.
Drain Water-Reliant Major Appliances
In addition to shutting off the water valve of individual appliances, drain any residual water already leftover in these machines. Water left sitting in dishwashers or laundry machines can result in biohazards like mold and mildew. You can also take advantage of this time to check the hoses of appliances like washing machines for any kinks, cracks, or tears. A professional plumber can replace worn hoses as needed. Be sure to ask about upgrading to steel-reinforced hoses or similarly durable assembly parts that help prevent water leaks.
Insulate Exposed Pipes
Homeowners who plan to go on vacation during colder seasons should insulate all exposed pipes. This insulation helps prevent pipework from freezing. Frozen pipes can crack, split, or burst if left unfixed for long periods of time. This damage may require pipe replacement that demands a significant investment of time and money to complete. To prevent such problems, check all exposed pipes in unheated areas like the attic, basement, crawlspace, corridor, or the exterior siding of your house.
Drain Outdoor Sprinklers, Gutters, and Hoses
Prior to going on vacation, take care of any exterior water sources, like garden hoses, that can leak or burst if left unattended. Unregulated sprinklers pose a risk of flooding your property. Avoid this risk by draining outdoor equipment and shutting off the outdoor water system completely. Remove the hose from the outdoor tap to prevent dripping that can cause a hefty water bill. If you have a swimming pool, remember to disconnect the pumps and hose from the pool area as well. Depending on the time of year, pool pumps can freeze or overheat and result in damage that is expensive to fix. The wrong temperature can also foster the growth of mold or algae, necessitating a major cleanup job when you return. It is far better to drain and remove the hoses in advance to prevent post-vacation problems.
While outdoors, it is also a good idea to clear your gutters of debris. Clogged gutters can cause water around your home’s foundation, resulting in devastating damage. To remain on the safe side, contact a professional to inspect and clear your gutters. Professionals have the equipment needed to clean hard-to-reach areas so that your gutters can do their job of dispersing moisture away from the home.
Set Thermostat and Inspect Water Heater
Many homeowners turn off their thermostats and home heaters before leaving for vacation. During colder months, set your home thermostat to a neutral temperature that prevents pipes from freezing. Try aiming for a temperature a few degrees above freezing to keep your home safe and energy bills low. Similarly, you can also inspect your water heater for signs of damage like rust, corrosion, cracks, or leaks. If you notice problems, contact a plumber to fix the water heater before you leave. After inspecting your water heater, a plumber may also advise you to turn the appliance off or set it to “low” or “vacation mode” to prevent excessive heating bills during your absence.
Clean Indoor Drains and Clear the Garbage Disposal
Check all indoor drains before going on vacation. Signs to look for include clogs, unusual smells, or slow drainage. If you notice these signs of blockage, contact a plumber for professional drain cleaning. Areas of the home that usually require drain cleaning before vacation include bathrooms and the kitchen. For example, a plumber can remove unpleasant blockage like hair, soap, and debris from tub drains. Kitchen clogs can consist of unwanted waste like oil, grease, or food particles. Attempting to fix these clogs on your own using chemical cleaners can lead to further pipe damage. A plumber has the equipment and expertise to clean drains quickly and effectively. In addition to drains, be sure to clear the garbage disposal before leaving the home. This prevents residual food from rotting during your trip and eliminates any foul smells coming from your sink when you return.
Disinfect Sinks and Toilets
Vacation preparation is the perfect opportunity to disinfect sinks and toilets. Failure to disinfect these areas can lead to stains as well as the growth of harmful bacteria. Use a non-abrasive cleanser to disinfect basins and toilet bowls so that you can return to sparkling clean hardware after your trip.
Inspect the Sump Pump
A sump pump is a device that moves water from the basement or lowest point of your home and uses a pumping mechanism to push the water outside of your home. The purpose of a sump pump is to prevent flooding, water damage, or mold growth. If you notice that your sump pump is not ejecting water as it should, schedule a plumbing appointment so that a professional can repair this device.
Leave Emergency Contact Information
Before going on vacation, provide your emergency contact information to a friend, relative, or trustworthy neighbor. This individual can periodically keep an eye on your home when you are away. These routine checks can also ensure swift action in the event of a plumbing emergency.
Have a Professional Plumber Perform a Checkup
Experts recommend professional plumbing inspections at least once a year. If you haven’t scheduled your annual maintenance, there’s no better time to do it than before vacation. A plumbing company can complete a thorough audit of everything from your sink drains to your sewer system. Using specialized equipment such as video inspection tools, a professional can also identify any issues you may have missed and give you peace of mind that everything will be in great working order when you return.
Contact Us Today
Prioritizing your plumbing before going on vacation is a great way to protect your home. Fortunately, you do not have to complete this process alone. Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas offers plumbing services for homes in Nanaimo, BC and surrounding areas. We offer leak detection, drain cleaning, and drain repair. Our specialties also include backflow protection as well as toilet or shower repair. We can test and repair your sump pump as well as inspect sewer lines for optimal functionality. Ask our technicians about radiant floor heating to maximize the comfort of your home. No matter the issue, contact Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas for all plumbing needs.