Getting ready for a vacation in the midst of the holiday season can be chaotic. As you make your to-do list before you leave, don’t forget to add plumbing toward the top. A frozen and burst pipe would make for an unwelcome homecoming, but there are easy steps you can take to prevent this disaster.
Step 1: Turn off the main valve
If you do nothing else to protect your pipes while you’re away, at least turn off your main water supply valve. The main valve controls water flow into your home. Turning it off ceases the supply of water to your pipes, so that if one were to burst, it wouldn’t be able to cause catastrophic damage by pouring gallons of free-flowing water into your home.
Shutting off your main valve is simple. It is most likely located in your basement along the front wall of the house. There are a couple different styles of valves. If you have a newer home, it will probably look like a lever. Turn the level 90 degrees until it is perpendicular to the pipes.
If you need help finding your main valve, contact your plumber. Afterward, turn on a faucet to make sure that you did it correctly. No water should flow out.
Step 2: Check supply lines
Supply lines connecting to appliances, faucets, and toilets can exacerbate a bad situation if there’s any pre-existing damage or vulnerability. When temperatures drop below freezing or a pipe bursts elsewhere in your house, these weak spots can quickly give way to become a major source of water damage.
Check all supply lines for signs of corrosion, cracks, bulging, or active leaks. Repair any damage you discover before leaving on your trip.
Step 3: Shut off supply valves
While you’re at it, you might as well shut off the supply valves to your appliances, faucets, and toilets. Especially if there’s a reason you can’t shut off your main valve (for example, because you have someone watering your plants or feeding your pets while you’re away), shutting off the water supply to appliances that won’t be used while you’re gone is just a good extra precaution. It can’t hurt.
Step 4: Turn off exterior faucets
Exterior faucets are the first to freeze when the temperature drops, since they’re exposed to the elements. After you turn off your main valve, turn on your exterior faucets to drain the remaining water. When the water flow stops, turn off the valve.
Don’t forget to remove all hoses connected to exterior faucets. Hoses can trap any lingering water in a faucet even if the water supply is shut off, causing the faucet to freeze and crack.
Step 5: Test your sump pump
Your sump pump keeps ground water from building up in your basement, so a broken sump pump can cause untold damage to your house. Before you leave home for an extended period of time, make sure your sump pump is still working properly.
Test your sump pump by filling the pump with extra water and watching to see whether it is able to pump it out of the basement. If not, you could have a serious problem on your hands unless you have it taken care of before you leave. Call your plumber immediately.
As an extra precaution, you may want to add backup power to your sump pump to ensure that it continues to work in the event of an outage.
Even after taking these precautions, it can’t hurt to have a trusted friend or relative check in on your house while you’re gone. If something unexpected does happen, have them contact Bonfe. With our 24/7 emergency service guarantee, you won’t have to worry about a thing. We’ll have the problem taken care of before you get home from your trip.