Sometimes things go wrong, and other times we can prevent the damage before it starts.
Just last week, I heard story from a friend who shuts off her water supply whenever she leaves the house. It started one day when her daughter heard the sound of rushing water.
"It's just the washing machine," she said. It took them both another five minutes to realize that a basket of unwashed clothes was sitting in front of them. When they got to the laundry room, the hose to the washing machine had burst, and there was already three inches of water on the floor. Even with quick detection, the leak had seeped through the walls and into the adjacent rooms. Luckily, she was home to wade into the room and cut the main water supply before the damage spread even further.
Internal leaks and damages are painfully common. I can't tell you the number of families that have come home to leaking pipes behind washing machines, backed up sump pumps, and any number of other unexpected and preventable disasters.
We've written before about ways to protect your home from internal threats. Now that vacations are around the corner, it's time to remember the little checks that can save your home from preventable damage now and also in the colder months.
- Check your home for leaks before you leave. Look at the pipes under all sinks, and check your water heater for cracks and rust.
- Inspect the hoses that connect to major appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerator ice-makers. Washing machine hoses should be changed every five years. Make sure there are no kinks; replace any old or damaged hoses.
- Clear all the debris out of your rain gutters, and check the downspouts for any blockages.
- Examine your sump pump and check that it is in good condition and clear of debris by filling the sump pit and running the pump. Listen to the motor for strange sounds and watch that the water is going outside. Install a battery-powered backup in case of a power outage while you are gone. Even better, invest in a sump pump based on water pressure. If you lose your power, your sump pump will still need to function normally to prevent a water loss.
- Insulate exposed pipes to keep them from freezing in the winter. Purchase foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves that fit right over the pipes. Protect outdoor spigots by removing any hoses and covering the spigots with bib protectors. Leave the heat on low while you are gone to also prevent freezing pipes.
- Turn off the water at the main. Drain the pipes to keep them from bursting in freezing weather by running the water and flushing the toilets after you shut off the water. Leave the cupboards under sinks open while you are gone to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
No matter what your vacation plans, make sure you review these checks early and often. Spent at home or away, nothing ruins a holiday more than unexpected damage that could have been detected and prevented.
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