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What To Do Before You Leave Before Vacation: Protect Your Plumbing

Don’t Come Home to a Plumbing Disaster!

Finally! The car is packed, with tickets in hand. You have placed the last check mark on your pre-vacation TO DO list … or have you? You have earned some much-needed time off — so why burden yourself with worrying about things at home while you are away? Such as “Honey, should we have turned the water off before leaving?” Do not let coming home to a plumbing disaster make those tropical memories go down the drain. Whether you are away for a weekend, a week or more, here are our TOP FIVE tips to ensure a worry-free summer vacation.

1. Turn Off Your Main Water Supply

The top plumbing question related to leaving for vacation is always, “should I shut off the water when on vacation?” Why risk it? Eliminate the problem at its source. Whether you are heading out for vacation or not, it is a good idea to know where and how to access your main water supply valve. By turning off this valve, you are not allowing any water into your entire home. If you decide to do this, make sure to open your faucets and drain out any remaining water in the pipes as well. Place a note on the main valve reminding you that the faucets are open when you go to open the valve upon your return. If you still need water in your house while you are away, you can shut off the supply — using the individual water valves — to appliances or devices (ice maker, dishwasher, toilets, washing machine) that will not be used while you are away. ALWAYS be sure to turn off your water heater if you plan to keep your main water supply off for more than a couple of hours. Failing to do so could result in damage to your water heater. Did you know there is a new technology that can actually detect when there is a leak in your home and AUTOMATICALLY shut off your water valve?! And we install it! Give us a call and ask about LeakSmart technology.

2. Check Your Drains and Disposal

Gross! Nobody wants to return from vacation to a stinky home! Do a quick survey of your drains to ensure they are flowing freely. Address any slow moving or clogged drains before you leave. Check to see if any leftover food is stuck in your garbage disposal. This trapped food can rot while you are away. Run the disposal with some ice cubes and cold water to push any remaining food remnants down the drain before you leave. Then, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the drain. This will prevent bad bacteria from forming. Be sure to also empty your dishwasher and washing machine before you leave. Emptying these appliances will prevent mold, mildew, and foul-smelling odors, especially if you leave the doors on each slightly open to air them out while you are away. It would also be a great idea to occasionally run seldom-used faucets and toilets from time to time to prevent your drain traps from running dry which could lead to harmful sewer gases building up in your home.

3. Check Your Washing Machine Connections

Inspect your washing machine supply hoses and connections. Make sure they are attached securely and in good shape — free of any corrosion, cracks, or calcium buildup. Amazingly, the life expectancy of a washing machine supply hose is only three years! Laundry hoses are one of the two major causes of leaks in a home (the other is your water heater, which we will address next) so they should be in good working order.

4. Check Your Water Heater

Look at your water heater. Keep an eye out for any water puddling, water stains, rust, or corrosion around the base of the tank. These are signs that there may be a leak, or the tank may need to be serviced or replaced. If all looks good, consider turning the water heater temperature down (some tanks have a vacation mode setting) while you are away to conserve energy.

5. Have Someone Check on Your House

Have a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member stop by periodically to check on your home while you are away. It will give you some peace of mind. This person should know where your main water supply valve is located should they need to access it (hopefully not!) and they should also have a list of emergency contacts, including your plumber! Utilizing these simple tips will almost always save you from a massive headache. Practice them each time you leave for a long vacation and they will become a habit before you know it. And if you ever have trouble, you know who to call for plumbing services in the Baltimore area


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