Whether you are going on a weekend getaway or planning a three-month trip to holiday with friends, your upcoming vacation is likely all that you are thinking about. Everyone wants a chance to get out and see the world, but just remember that your home is in Texas, and with any luck, when you come back, you want everything to be in one piece. One thing you certainly don’t want to find is gallons of water across your floor. The good news is there are a few things that you can do before leaving to help reduce the chances of needing an emergency plumber when you come home.
Many people don’t realize that taking care of a few quick tasks before they leave on vacation can save them a lot of grief. If possible, it’s a great time to schedule your annual plumbing inspection with a plumber. This way, you can somewhat kill two birds with one stone- make sure that everything is in great shape before you leave for vacation and ask the plumber if they have any improvements or fixes they would make before you leave for vacation.
Of course, if you don’t have time for a full inspection in your home, that isn’t a problem; you can easily take care of the checklist on your own as well. Then you only need to consult a plumber if you run into a problem while going through the list of chores you should complete before leaving. Sometimes people notice something array when they are paying closer attention, so remember you don’t want to leave anything to chance while you are gone.
It is always better to call a plumber and get a professional opinion versus waiting until it is too late and a disaster occurs while you are away. If you are only going to be gone for a few days, the results might not be so bad, but if you plan to leave for an extended trip that will last a few months, you certainly want to make sure that you take care of any lingering issues before you leave your home. In fact, the length of your vacation will play a role in your overall to-do list.
Trips that last longer include more plumbing tasks before departure because you will, in essence, be closing up your home until your return. You may want to think about asking a friend or family member to pop into your home while you are gone so that you have the comfort of knowing your home is in great condition in your absence. In addition, if something has gone wrong, they can call a plumber out to your home and take care of the problem so that it doesn’t fester in your absence and become an even larger problem.
What you need to do before leaving your home varies greatly on how long you will be gone. For that reason, we have broken this guide up into three sections: quick getaways, spring breaks, and extended vacations. All of the information is useful, but you can find the type of trip you are taking and then read the specific instructions that pertain to your vacation. It may be a good idea to bookmark this list as well so that you can return to it before your next trip as well.
With that said, take a minute to read over the following tips so that you don’t need to have a plumber out to your home anytime soon. As always, a little bit of prevention is always worth a lifetime of comfort. In addition, if you have not had a plumbing inspection within the last couple of years, this is a gentle reminder that it is a great time to book one. There is never a bad time to make sure that your plumbing system is in great working order.
If you only plan to be away for a few days, then this is the checklist that will best fit your needs. It offers insight into a few basic tasks that you can take care of so that you don’t come home and find a flood on the floor that will require a plumber to fix. All of these tasks won’t take you more than an hour to complete, so just make sure you pop out this list before you head out and you can feel a bit better about the condition of your home while you are gone.
To start, make it a point to quickly spot-check your gutters before leaving. A lot of homes are ranch-style, so that should make this task even easier. Look for debris or a build-up of leaves, both of which aren’t too common around this area, but it never hurts to take a look. If you notice anything, simply clear them out of your gutters and this will help prevent any water damage from seeping down the side of your home and sitting near the foundation of your home. The last thing you want to do is discover a new basement leak when you come home. While it may not be a task that you have to bother a plumber about, it is a task that you will have to take care of.
Second, make sure that you don’t leave any major appliances running when you leave. Any plumber will tell you that it doesn’t take much for mold and mildew to grow, and wet dishes or clothes that are locked inside of a machine can certainly cause big problems. Make a mental note to pop your dishwasher open and your washing machine to make sure nothing is in there and to air them out. Leaving the doors open prevents the growth of anything suspicious in there.
While you are in the kitchen checking on the dishwasher, take a look at your sink drain. A lot of people toss leftover food down their garbage disposal before leaving, but if you don’t clear your sink fully you will end up with that smelly odor in your drains instead of your fridge. Make it a point to run the garbage disposal extensively to ensure that everything is cleared out of your sink drain. This also will decrease the risk of a partial obstruction forming, which will lead to a plumber call down the road.
Finally, take a minute to spot-check your pipes to look for leaks. Leaks are very damaging and, as any plumber will tell you, can result in a lot of wasted water. You don’t want your water usage to actually increase while you are not home. Take a few minutes to look around your home and make sure that there are no visible leaks. Keep in mind that you are looking for more than just water. Damp spots, bubbling wallpaper, and water-damaged wood are all signs of a leak nearby.
Up next on our list is the spring break-like getaway. It doesn’t actually have to happen during spring break, but refers to a vacation that is about one to three weeks and tends to be your yearly getaway. If you know that you are going to get away once a year then you can work your yearly preparations into your vacation to-do list. Make sure that you take care of the tasks listed above and then a few more to keep the plumber away from your home.
No one wants to come home to a flood, and when you are gone for a significant amount of time you can make sure this doesn’t happen by turning off the main water supply in your home. If water is not coming into your home, then you don’t have to worry about it spilling out anywhere. If you have a regular sprinkler that needs to continue to run while you are gone then you can instead turn off local shut-off valves near appliances such as your dishwasher and toilets so that the main water supply can still run to your sprinklers. If you don’t know where all of these valves are located, ask your plumber next time they are at your house.
While your sprinklers may run while you are away, nothing else will and they do not need hot water in order to do their job. Therefore, you should think about turning down the temperature on your water heater. This will help you save on utility bills while no one is in the house using the hot water anyhow. Some more modern water heaters actually have a “vacation’ mode that you can flip on. If you travel a lot and are replacing your water heater, you might actually want to talk to your plumber about installing a replacement with this option.
Finally, before leaving you will want to check out your sump pump and make sure that it is working correctly before you leave. This is quick to check and can also save you from an unexpected flood. You can have your plumber come out to take a look if you have significant concerns, or you can pour a bucket of water into the sump pump pit and see if it triggers it to turn on. If it doesn’t clear out the water you have an issue that you need to get fixed by a plumber before you leave.
Finally, if you plan to leave your home for a month or more, you need to start thinking about proper home maintenance for empty homes. This will require you to take care of a few more tasks that are extremely important if you don’t want to come home to a flood or other huge issues. In addition to all of the steps that were outlined above for shorter steps, you also will need to pay attention to a few more things.
First and foremost, you should consider having someone stop in to check in on your house that you trust. This should be someone who could call a plumber or any other repair person if you need it, and someone that can also do a quick safety check for you while they are in your home. If you are going to be gone for months at a time this is extremely important.
If you happen to have a pool you need to make sure the pump is in good shape so that algae does not start to grow. This should go on the list of things that you need to have your friend check on when they stop by. You also should think about turning off your AC or heat depending on the time of year that you leave. However, keep in mind that heat can get very high, so while you may not need to keep your home in the sixties while it is empty, you may want to keep the AC on to keep your home under 80 or so to avoid damage to your property.
Finally, make sure that you have someone run water through the pipes at some point, especially if you are going to be gone for a long time. A lack of water running through pipes can actually lead to corrosion and that will require a plumber to remedy. Therefore, asking someone to occasionally flip on a faucet if you are going to be longer than a month isn’t a bad idea.
Are you worried about your home while you are gone? A plumbing inspection is always reassuring before you leave your home. Contact bluefrog Plumbing + Drain + HVAC of San Antonio today to schedule one.
See our most recent blog on this topic here.