Leaks that go unnoticed can cause a lot of damage. A major break in a water pipe can spew hundreds of gallons an hour into your home. Know how to prevent plumbing disasters when you’re away from home.
Fix Small Leaks Before They Become Large Problems
Inspect all your faucets and appliance hoses, and repair any small leaks before you leave home. Rubber washing machine hoses are more prone to cracking, bulging, and leaking than stainless steel supply lines. If you have rubber supply hoses, consider replacing them. Repair leaky faucets as well; this might be as simple as replacing brittle washers.
Clean the Gutters
One gulley-washer can overwhelm a gutter clogged with leaves and debris. Summer storms can deposit twigs and seeds, while fall can fill your gutters with fallen leaves. Clear the gutters, and make sure the downspouts have extenders that carry water at least 10 feet away from the foundation of your house.
Shut Off the Main Valve and Water Heater
If you’ll be away for more than 24 hours, locate the main water shutoff valve and turn off the water supply to your home. It’s also a good idea to turn off the water heater. If you turn off the main supply and the water heater keeps running, it could cause damage.
Turn Off Supply Valves to Appliances
If you have to leave the water on—to run a sprinkler system, for example—then locate and turn off the shutoff valves for each water-using appliance in your house. Shut off water to your dishwasher and washing machine, and turn off the supply to toilets using the valve right next to or behind the tank to prevent a “running” toilet from running up your bills.
Keep the Heat On, and Drain the Lines in Winter
If you’ll be leaving home in the winter and your home is in an area that reliably experiences freezing temperatures, open the faucets to drain the lines, and leave them open. Leave the heat on, setting it between 56 and 60 degrees. You might want to put a sticky note on the main valve to remind you that the faucets are open before you turn the main supply back on. Also remember to detach outdoor hoses and turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets.
Arrange for a Neighbor to Check the House
One of the best ways to keep your peace of mind while you’re away is to arrange for a neighbor to check on your house while you’re gone. They can spot problems early and intervene to prevent any plumbing disasters when you’re away from home.
Consult a professional plumber if you have any questions about the plumbing system in your home and what you should do before going on vacation.