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4 Winter Plumbing Tips for When You'll Be Away

In this article are a few key steps you can take ahead of time to prevent disaster from striking while you're away.


Imagine returning from a relaxing vacation only to find your house flooded due to a burst pipe. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, burst pipes are one of the most common sources of damage to property in winter weather and can cause upward of $5,000 in damage.

If you are heading out of town this winter for more than two weeks, start planning now. Here are a few key steps you can take ahead of time to prevent disaster from striking while you're away.

Turn Off the Main Water Supply

Locating the main water supply valve — and knowing how to turn it off — is one of those pieces of knowledge that every homeowner should have. Taking the time to locate the main water supply valve now will save you time and hassle in an emergency. Plus, turning off the main water supply while you're out of town will give you extra piece of mind by ensuring you don't return to a burst pipe and catastrophic water damage.

The main water supply valve is often located toward the front of a basement or crawl space, although in warmer climates the valve might be located in an exterior box with a removable lid or on an exterior wall.

Prevent Burst Pipes

In addition to turning off the water supply, there are other steps you can take to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Leave the heat on in your home set to no lower than 55 degrees. Leave cabinet doors under bathroom and kitchen sinks open to allow warmer air to circulate. If you don't turn the main water supply off, leave one faucet served by exposed pipes on at a trickle. Allowing water to flow through pipes can help prevent freezing.

Additionally, check your crawl space, basement, and attic to make sure there's adequate insulation and that cracks around windows, doors, and at sill plates are sealed to prevent drafts.

Clean Drains and Garbage Disposals

Bacteria can build up in garbage disposals and drains while you're away, leading to unpleasant odors. Before you leave, run your garbage disposal for several seconds to ensure no debris is built up at the bottom. To create a homemade garbage disposal cleaning solution, mix vinegar and baking soda and run the solution through the drain. Follow it up by running a couple of lemon or orange peels through to leave a fresh scent.

Don't Put Off Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance issues could get worse while you're away, leading to a headache when you return. Set aside time at least a week or two before you leave to have a professional plumber fix these issues and conduct other routine maintenance. A plumber can also make sure your sump pump, the best defense against flooding, is working properly before you leave.
These tips can help ensure you don't return to an expensive, stressful plumbing issue, allowing you to truly relax and unwind while you're away.



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