8 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

Last Updated on March 13, 2019 by

The holidays are such a wonderful time of the year. The food is great, maybe you get some time off of work to unwind, and it’s the perfect opportunity to plan a vacation or visit some family. Oftentimes, you may be preoccupied with your travel plans, but it’s extremely important to make sure your home is well protected so you can end your trip on a good note and come back to a safe, clean home.

When you’re away for any length of time, the risk of flooding and water damage can be disastrous.

A small leak can make a big impact on your life if left unattended for extended periods of time and even if you’re insured, it could take months for things to get back to normal. To protect your home from water damage, follow these eight tips.

1.   Shut off individual water supply valves

This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of water damage due to bursts, ruptured washer hoses, or other water supply line mishaps while you you’re away! If you’re unsure of where the main valve is, or how to switch it off, call your water company. While you have them on the phone, ask their advice on what else you need to do.

2.   Turn off your water heater

Alternatively, you could turn off your water heater. While this is your choice, note that if you do turn your water supply off as we suggested in Step 1, you also need to change your water heater settings. It should be turned to “Low” or “Vacation.”

3.   Check your supply lines

While you’re turning off the water supply valve, check the lines, which lead from the shutoff valves to appliances, faucets and toilets. These can become brittle as they age so check them for leaks, cracks, or signs of corrosion and replace the lines before you go on vacation. Replacing hoses is inexpensive and well worth the peace of mind.

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.

Having a sump pump is not a set it and forget it solution. Check that the discharge lines are not clogged with leaves or other debris or freeze which may prevent the sump pump from draining properly and steadily. Be sure to check for these six common sump pump issues and solutions.

5.   Check your gutters

Make sure your downspouts empty away from the foundation of your home and the gutters are clean and properly functioning. It may seem obvious but that’s why it’s often overlooked. Before you leave, check to make sure there aren’t any sticks, leaves or debris blocking the downspout. Eliminating blockages are key to avoiding extensive and expensive home repairs.

6.   Shut off exterior faucets

Outdoor faucets are the first plumbing parts to freeze and burst when the temperature drops. Insulate exposed pipes with foam rubber or fiber glass sleeves to keep them from freezing in the winter. You can also protect outdoor spigots by removing any hoses and covering the spigots with bib protectors.

If you turned off your supply valve, open the outside faucets to drain excess water from the pipes. Also, remember to disconnect your hose from any outdoor faucets as it traps the water and can crack the faucet. We also recommend turning down the heat while you are gone to prevent freezing pipes. Turn it down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit when you leave but not any lower. You should also leave the doors of bathroom vanities and kitchen sink cabinets open to allow more heat to get to the plumbing.

7.   Additional plumbing protection

There are many simple things you can do to protect your home for water damage, like turning off your ice maker, but if you’d like even more protection, the following items may be worth looking into.

  • Temperature sensors – These detect furnace breakdowns and can help prevent frozen pipes and resulting water damage when interior temperatures dip.
  • Backup sump battery – Emergency backup battery systems for sump pumps keep pumps functioning during power failures.
  • Water flow sensor – Programmed to allow normal water flow during a selected period of time, these close valves if water flow exceeds a specified amount.
  • Electronic leak detector – Depending on which kind you get, these detectors will sound an alarm and alert you when they detect water or are wired to an automatic shutoff valve.

8.   Ask a neighbor to look in on things

If you’d prefer not to switch off your supply, or want to have a backup plan if you’re not sure if you’ve executed any of the above safety precautions, have a trusted neighbor check your home regularly while you’re away – and make sure they know where the main shut-off valve is in case anything has happened.

Taking these precautions should protect your home while on vacation but in life, there are never any guarantees. Emergencies can happen, even during the holidays, so in the event of an emergency plumbing situation in Chicago or Suburbs, contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for expert 24 hour plumbing services.