Going on Vacation? Here are 6 Plumbing Tips


According to the Insurance Information Institute, the second most common homeowners' insurance claim is water damage to houses. Leaking pipes and appliances, and damage caused by storms and freezing conditions cause millions of dollars worth of damage every year. If a pipe leaks or bursts while you are on vacation, water can destroy carpets and furniture and even compromise the structural integrity of your walls or foundation. Before leaving your home for more than a few days, prep your house so you won't come home to a big, expensive mess.

Step 1
Check your home for leaks before you leave. Look at the pipes under all sinks, and check your water heater for cracks and rust. Relief valves on water heaters should be changed every three years.

Step 2
Inspect the hoses that connect to major appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerator ice-makers. Make sure there are no kinks; replace any old or damaged hoses. Rubber wash machine hoses should be changed every three to five years.

Step 3
Examine your sump pump and check that it is in good condition and clear of debris by filling the sump pit and running the pump. Listen to the motor for strange sounds and watch that the water is going outside. Install a battery-powered backup source in case there is a power outage while you are gone.

Step 4
Insulate exposed pipes to keep them from freezing in the winter. Hardware stores sell foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves that fit right over the pipes. Protect outdoor spigots by removing any hoses and covering the spigots with bib protectors. Leave the heat on low while you are gone to also prevent freezing pipes.

Step 5
Ask someone to check your house periodically while you are gone. Show him where the thermostat is so he can ensure the heat is always on in the winter. He should also know where the water main is located in case a pipe leaks or bursts. The water main shut-off valve is usually in a home's basement, garage or outdoors near the foundation.

Step 6
Turn off the water at the main if there is no one to check your house. Drain the pipes to keep them from bursting in freezing weather by running the water and flushing the toilets after you shut off the water. Leave the cupboards under sinks open while you are gone to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.

If you have questions, contact a licensed, professional PHCC contractor.