Plumbing Priorities Before Your Trips
A few things to do around your home so you can relax on your vacation.
Everyone has a fear of being that person that comes home from their vacation to a flooded home or leak in your celling. Here are some helpful hints to save money, protect your home and put your mind at ease.
What to Do: Shut Down your Hot Water Heater
If you have a traditional tank water heater that runs on electricity or natural gas, it’s likely to be among the highest energy consuming appliances in your home. By turning this off you can save on your energy bills. If there’s no risk of freezing, there’s nothing wrong with shutting off your water heater for a few days.
You can either use the main shutoff handle on your water heater itself, or shut it off at your main circuit panel if that’s more accessible. Some water heaters have a “vacation” setting on the temperature control dial. Alternatively, you can just turn the temperature dial to its lowest setting.
Note: Make sure you turn it back on first thing when you get home! They can take a while to heat up.
What to Do: Shut Off Your Water Supply
When it comes to home repair headaches, broken plumbing pipes are especially costly because of the huge mess they create. If you’re not home to notice the deluge and act, you might suffer catastrophic property damage. But if you completely shut off the water supply to your home, you can prevent plumbing-related water damage altogether.
If you don’t know exactly where your main shut-off valve is, you should locate it today. Because even if a pipe breaks while you’re at home, the best way to minimize damage is to go directly to the valve and shut off the flow of water at the source.
The main shut-off valve is near the water meter in most homes. Sometimes it will be a hand-crank knob or handle on a large pipe in the basement. In warm climates, it’s often located outside the home, sometimes below ground and covered by a grate. These valves may require a long-handled tool called a valve key. If you can’t find your shut-off valve, your local plumber can show you and make sure it’s working properly.
If you shut off your water supply before vacation, open a faucet on the other end of the house to drain what water remains in the lines. When you return, reopen the main valve slowly to minimize surging pressure on your pipes and fixtures.
Note: If you use the water for your sprinkler system you may not be able to turn off all your water. But you can still prevent isolated leaks in other areas of the home by shutting off individual valves on lines leading to toilets, sinks, dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines. Just look for a handle located along the water line leading from the wall.