5 Tips To Prevent Water Damage While You Are On Vacation!
Traveling during the holidays to meet with family and friends is a common activity for those celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, or for a get away to a hot resort during cold winter months.
Statistically speaking, Thanksgiving and the Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During this period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increases by by more than 50 percent.
Unfortunately, for many home and business owners that travel, getting back to reality after their vacation can be a harsh homecoming when they arrive to a flooded basement caused by a broken supply line or over the ground flooding.
Usually the first indication that there is a problem is a strong odor upon return because the water has been sitting for days and even weeks.
Rest assured, during times when you require water damage restoration, your friends at Indoor Environmental Professionals are here to help because we specialize in cleaning and restoring your property.
We love to help, but one of our goals is to educate and inform you so you can prevent this from happening!
The primary objective of this article is to provide you with 5 helpful tips to prevent you from coming back to a flooded property. It all starts with knowing how to shut off the water to your home.
Where Is The Water Main Valve Located?
Many water meter setups have two valves, one on the street side of the meter and one on the house side. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll typically find the main shutoff in the basement near the front of the house. In warmer climates, it will be outside your home attached to an exterior wall or in an underground box with a removable lid.
There are two types of main shutoff valves: the gate valve and the ball valve.
The gate valve is common in older homes and has a round handle that must be turned a number of times to open or close the valve. Gate valves are designed to be fully open or fully closed. Water flowing through a partially open gate valve can wear away the metal and cause the valve to fail over time.
The ball valve is more common in newer construction and has a lever handle that needs to be turned 90 degrees to turn the water on or off. You can immediately tell if it’s open or not. In the closed position, the lever is perpendicular to the pipes; in the open position it’s parallel.
You should make a habit of checking your shut off valve at least semi annually and make sure to spray some sort of lubricant like WD-40 on it while opening and closing it a few times.
This process should be performed not only with your water main but all shut off valves such as under your kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, toilets and laundry room washer valves.
If you spring a leak you will be well prepared to mitigate loss by quickly shutting off the proper valve!
Now that you know where to find the water main valve, here are the 5 tips to help you enjoy your relaxing holiday while you are away! 🙂
#1 Shut Off The Main Valve Before You Travel!
The single most important action you can take before leaving for vacation, is to shut off the main valve that controls all the water entering your home.
Don’t forget about your outdoor faucets. These are the first plumbing parts to freeze and burst when the temperature drops. So always close the supply shutoff valve inside the house before you head off on vacation. This is a good idea even if you have a frostproof faucet, since you’ll probably turn down the thermostat when you leave home. After turning off the supply shutoff, open the outside faucets to drain the remaining water out of the pipes. Never leave a hose connected to an outdoor faucet because it traps water in the faucet, which can freeze and crack open the faucet.
Another tip to avoid frozen plumbing is to turn the heat down to 60 degrees F when you leave, but not lower. You want to keep things warm enough inside the house so that water pipes running through exterior walls don’t freeze and burst. Leave the doors of bathroom vanities and kitchen sink cabinets open to allow more heat to get to the plumbing, and consider using a temperature sensor.
#2 Test Your Main Valve Before You Leave!
If you are not sure if the water main valve is completely shut off, test it.
This test if fairly simple. All you need to do is turn on a faucet somewhere in your home and then shut off the main water valve. If the shutdown works properly, then all the water should stop.
If you have never turned off the valve before, some words of caution.
An old valve can break, so be gentle when performing this test. If the valve is stuck, leaks, or does not shut off all the way, please leave it alone and contact a licensed plumber to loosen the valve and/or replace it. The last thing you want to happen is to try to turn off the valve and inadvertently break it.
If you are planning to travel and have never shut off the valve before do this test a couple of weeks in advance just in case you do need some time to call a plumber and your municipal water supplier if any maintenance is required.
If you have a well, shut off the electrical switch for the well when you leave for an extended period so it won’t pump any water while you’re gone.
#3 Shut Off Valves To The Most Common Sources Of Water Damage!
There may be times when you do not want to shut off the water to the whole house, say if you have a neighbor watering plants, checking in on a pet, an automatic sprinkler system, etc. In cases like this, it likely is not necessary to shut off the main water valve to the whole home, provided you show your neighbor where it is just in case there is a flood event.
However, it is important that you do shut off the valves to the most common sources of water damage, including your dishwasher, icemaker, and washing machine just in case a hose cracks or leaks while you are away.
Individual shutoff valves or “stops” are installed on the supply lines leading to most appliances as well as to toilets and faucets. Water supply stops usually have a small round or oval handle that you turn clockwise to shut off the flow of water.
The shutoff to your refrigerator’s icemaker might be located under the sink or in the basement. If your shutoff valve looks like the one to the right, consider replacing it with a standard shutoff valve.
As a final note, we also recommend that you inspect your supply lines as well prior to leaving for your vacation. It will take you about 10 minutes and a flashlight to inspect your supply lines for leaks, cracks, bulges, and/or signs of corrosion. If you find any problems, be sure to contact a plumber to have these issues fixed as well.
#4 Test Your Sump Pump!
Sump pump systems help keep groundwater out of your basement. Before a vacation, test your sump pump by filling the sump pit with water and making sure the pump is actually pumping out the water.
If it doesn’t, be sure the sump pump is plugged in (a surprisingly common oversight) and check the breaker as well. Also make sure the outlet pipe isn’t frozen or clogged and that it directs water away from your home. Clean the hole in the discharge line and check that the motor is running smoothly. Also consider adding a backup battery to your sump pump so that it functions during power outages, which seem to go hand-in-hand with heavy rainstorms.
#5 Inspect The Outside Of Your Home!
Taking the time to check the gutters and downspout extensions can save you thousands of dollars later by preventing storm water damage while you’re away. Check to see if leaves, sticks or other debris are blocking the inlet of the downspout and preventing water from flowing down the spout. Also make sure your downspout extensions are discharging the water far enough from the foundation and that you always reattach them after you mow your lawn.
Keep in mind, a 1,000-sq.-ft. roof can cast off about 620 gallons of water during a 1-inch rain storm. That’s about 103 gallons per downspout if you have six of them. That’s a lot of water dumped right next to your basement to greet you when you return! A quick check to make sure the gutters are clean and the downspouts are draining away from the foundation are key to prevent water damage and basement flooding while you’re away.
Got Water Damage or Flood Prevention Questions?
Have questions? Contact us today for more water damage prevention tips. If you have questions about water damage restoration, we’ve provided answers here in our post “Top 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Water Damage Restoration!”.
Peace of mind is just a phone call away!
Remember, Indoor Environmental Professionals is here to help. We provide water removal and other restoration services! Call us at 309-670-6653.
— Mike Lanius (@MoldHelp1) November 27, 2017