Your home is your biggest investment, don’t leave it vulnerable to frozen pipes and water damage when you travel for work or vacation. Water damage from frozen pipes, ruptured washer hoses, leaking supply lines and dripping water heaters costs billions every year. Don’t let this year’s winter weather catch you unprepared. To help protect your home, use a combination of these DIY tips and new technology.
Shutting off the main valve that controls all the water is the best protection while you travel. If you can’t shut off the main water supply, at least shut off the valves to the most common sources of water damage: dishwashers, ice makers and washing machines. Individual shutoff valves or “stops” are installed on the supply lines leading to most appliances; look for a small round or oval handle which turns clockwise to close.
Outdoor faucets are the first plumbing parts to freeze and burst when the temperature drops. Never leave a hose connected to an outdoor faucet; it traps water in the faucet, which can freeze and crack open the faucet. 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.
If you’ve never shut off the main water valve before, test it beforehand.
Rubber or plastic supply lines that lead from shutoff valves to appliances, faucets, and toilets become brittle and break over time. Upgrade worn equipment to a braided stainless steel sheath; a pair of washing machine hoses costs less than $20 at home centers. Not only are they more reliable they also prevent mice from gnawing through the lines.
Sump pump systems help keep groundwater out of your basement. When it begins to rain, the float switch rises and the pump takes the water to a storm drain. 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 or check the breaker switch.
Clean and properly functioning gutters with downspouts empty away from the foundation to protect your home. Check to see if leaves, sticks or other debris are blocking the inlet of the downspout and preventing water from flowing down the spout. This could lead to an ice dam on the roof and a flood in your attic.
In addition to protecting the existing pipes, you have additional options that take advantage of technology such as your smartphone, to monitor the home when you are out.
For example, temperature sensors detect furnace breakdowns and can help prevent frozen pipes and resulting water damage when interior temperatures dip. These temperature sensors, turn on or off any device plugged into them depending on the air temperature. For example, you can use a lamp plugged into the sensor to turn on when the temperature inside the house falls below a certain level, alerting a neighbor to call you. Some sensors can be programmed to send a message to your phone.
Emergency backup battery systems will keep your sump pumps functioning during a power failure. The systems sound an alarm when sump maintenance is needed or a battery problem is detected.
A water flow sensor can be installed on a home’s main water line and programmed to allow normal water flow during a selected period of time. If water flow exceeds a specified amount, a valve will close to stop the flow of water. A monitor that can sound an alarm at the monitor keypad is also available.
Electronic leak detectors use wireless water sensors to sound an alarm when they detect water. When water touches the sensor, the valve closes. Some monitors can also be wired into a centrally monitored alarm system, and some versions provide options for calling you by phone when the alarm sounds.
Even when you plan and protect your investment, disasters can happen. When your home has winter water damage, contact TCM Restoration & Cleaning in Wasilla. The team will quickly arrive with industrial strength water removal and cleaning equipment to restore your home back to the house you fell in love with.