As you are making your vacation plans, scheduling reservations, booking your resort, and figuring out what to pack, don’t forget about making a checklist of plumbing priorities to do before you leave your home. Problems like leaks drip and even broken water lines can still occur when you are away.
The last thing you want to return home to after a relaxing vacation is discovering the basement flooded and water is running out from under the front door. With no one home to shut off the water main, the water will continue to flow the entire time you are away. Aside from the impact the free-flowing water will have on your water bill, there could be other damage to your home.
Prepping your home before leaving on vacation should include doing the following steps:
Step 1: Clean the Garbage Disposal
Make sure to clean the garbage disposal before leaving on vacation. Any food particles left in the unit will rot and decay. Not to mention, any residues inside the disposal can promote bacteria growth, mold, and mildew if left standing unused for a short period of time.
You definitely don’t want to come home to a smelly and stinky home. There are special disposal cleaners you can use, or talk to your plumber to see what products he or she recommends.
Step 2: Clean the Toilets
Other areas of the home that can start to stink when water isn’t run for a few days are the toilets in your bathrooms. Make sure to clean them before leaving on vacation.
Step 3: Inspect the Sump Pump
If you have a sump pump in your basement, verify it is working correctly. You can fill it with water by pouring some in it until the pump should kick on. If it does, then you are all set for your vacation. If not, then you will want to call for plumbing repair service, to avoid coming home to a flooded basement.
Step 4: Turn Off the Water Main
There is no reason to leave the water on while you are away. While you could certainly shut off individual valves under toilets and sinks, this does not shut off water to the entire home.
What will happen if one of the water hoses on the back of the washer suddenly breaks? You can forgo shutting off individual valves, save time, and complete your vacation plumbing checklist more efficiently by simply shutting off the water main.
Step 5: Shut Off the Hot Water Heater
If you have a tank-based hot water heater, turn it off. You are not going to be home, so there is no need for hot water. Plus, the hot water will need to cycle periodically to keep water at your desired temperature level. By turning it off, you can save money on your electric or gas bill. For electric models, there should be a switch near the water heater you can flip off.
For gas models, simply turn the temperature setting all the way down so the pilot light remains lit. To shut off the electrical components in the heater, there should either be a switch next to the heater or flip the breaker off in your breaker box.
Step 6: Slowly Turn on Faucets to Drain Water Out of the Pipes
After shutting off the water main and the water heater, you will want to remove as much water from your plumbing as possible. Slowly open up faucets one at a time in the kitchen and bathrooms. Once the water is removed, remember to shut the faucets off. You should also flush the toilet to remove any water from the tank.
- Tip: Put a small amount of toilet bowl cleaner in the water that is left in the toilet bowl to keep it smelling fresh.
Step 7: Shut Off the Automatic Ice Maker
If your freezer has an automatic icemaker, turn it off. This way, it won’t try to draw in water and make ice while you are away. For freestanding ice makers, there should be a cycle select switch you can turn to the “off” position. If not, then you will want to unplug it and empty out any ice inside prior to leaving home.
Step 8: Don’t Forget About Your Plants/Garden
You can leave the external water pipes on while on vacation. If you have an underground sprinkler system, verify what days and times you want it to turn on, and check that is working correctly.
If you don’t have an underground sprinkler system, you can pick up special timers that connect to garden hoses. For gardens and flower beds, consider using soaker hoses, as these will ensure more water is soaked into the ground.
Step 9: Leave the Washer and Dishwasher Doors Open
Washer and dishwashers can have a little bit of free-standing water left in them. By leaving the doors open, it will allow the water to evaporate and prevent mold and mildew from forming.
Turning Water Back on After Vacation
The steps to turn your water back on after returning from your vacation are fairly easy and involve doing the reverse of what you did before leaving.
Step 1: Verify All Water Faucets Are Turned Off
Take the time to confirm you did remember to turn off all the faucets when you shut the water off. When the water is turned back on, there will be air in the pipes you will need to slowly vent. If faucets are already turned on, the air may not be vented out correctly.
Step 2: Turn on the Water Main
Slowly and gradually turn on the water to the home until the handle or knob stops turning.
Step 3: Turn on the Faucets.
Starting with the faucets near the water main and working to the ones farthest away, slowly turn on the hot and cold water and open it about a third of the way. Do this for every faucet in the home. Once all the faucets have been opened and there is no air left in the pipes, shut them off.
Step 4: Turn on the Hot Water Heater
Turn your hot water heater back on. If you turned down the temperature setting, turn it back up, too. For gas heaters, verify the pilot light is still lit. Allow the hot water heater to run one full heating cycle before using hot water.
Step 5: Flush the Toilets
You will want to flush the toilets a few times to get any water out of the plumbing lines. If the bowl smells funky, go ahead and clean it in between the flushes.
Step 6: Turn on the Ice Maker
Turn your ice maker back on. Depending on how long you were away, you may want to dump out the ice and start with fresh ice.
Step 7: Turn on the Garbage Disposal
Run cold water down the drain and turn the disposal on. If it smells a little, clean it.
Other Vacation Prep Tips for Your Home
Depending on the time of year when you are vacationing, you do not want to shut off your air conditioner or heater. It is perfectly acceptable to turn up the thermostat setting a few degrees higher for the AC and turn down the thermostat setting a few degrees for the heater.
You will want to unplug any non-essential electronics, such as the TV, home surround sound system, cable box, gaming systems, computers, and so on. Flip the switch on the surge protector off and then unplug the surge protector from the wall. Not only will you be saving some money on your electric bill, but you will also avoid potential damage if there is a thunderstorm or electrical surge.
If you want to make it look like someone is home, you can set up lights in different rooms on timers. Make sure to set the timers for the same times you normally use a particular area of the home.
Let a neighbor, friend, or relative know you will be gone and ask them to check on your home periodically. You may want to give them a key so they can get inside to make sure everything is in order.
We hope these vacation prep tips will help prevent plumbing problems and save you some money on your energy bills. For help with household plumbing problems, 24-hour plumbing service, and AC maintenance and repairs, please feel free to contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-603-9949 to schedule an appointment today!