’Tis the season to get away from it all. Whether it’s the cold, snow, or other ‘joys’ that go along with winter living, an escape to the sunny south beckons.
For many, it’s worth it, even dealing with all the requirements Covid presents. While lining up the how-to of it all, don’t forget to secure your home before you leave – in particular your plumbing. If something happens while you’re away, such as a burst pipe, you could be facing a real mess as a welcome home gift.
That could happen, even if someone is checking your home on a regular basis. Make sure your home checker has contact numbers for Plumbtech Plumbing Inc. The Barrie-based company looks after the community’s plumbing needs throughout Simcoe County and Muskoka. Plumbtech also maintains a 24-hour emergency service.
While your trip is in the planning stages it might be a good idea to check your plumbing for any current leaks and have them fixed. Check around all of your fixtures – toilets, taps, shower, washing machine, and hot water heater.
Water on the floor could indicate a leak. Check the water lines too for any wetness. Feel for wetness at any of the joins, particularly with older flexible plumbing, such as Poly-B piping, as well as ‘push-and-turn’ fittings and joints.
Some leaks, however, may not be as visible. To check your toilet, place a few drops of food dye in the back and wait 20-30 minutes without flushing. If coloured water appears in the toilet bowl, there is a leak.
Signs of a hidden leak may result in higher than normal water bills. But a small leak might not be detectible that way. Do a floor test by walking around barefoot. Any damp or cold spots could indicate a leak under the floor.
With pressurized water lines, a plumbing line leak can also be heard. Listen for a hiss.
In addition, check for vulnerable areas in your home where water lines could freeze, usually along exterior walls. Adding pipe insulation may help. Plumbtech advises contacting your insurance company before leaving on vacation to find out what their requirements are. What does your home policy cover? What isn’t covered?
Before leaving on vacation, turn off the main water supply to your home. The shut off valve is located at or near where the water line enters the house.
That will still leave water in all the plumbing lines but it would be a limited amount and any potential damage would be contained.
If your trip occurs in the spring, after things have started thawing and/or in case of a heavy rain, do a test run on your sump pump to make sure it will automatically turn on and drain any water.
In addition, turn off the electrical breaker to the hot water tank and mark the breaker. Lower the thermostat, but leave home heat high enough to prevent plumbing from freezing.
Homes have become a lot smarter in recent years with products to monitor and protect water systems. Some can detect leaks and even, in case of an emergency, turn off the water supply automatically.