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5 Plumbing items to check before leaving on vacation…

It’s that time of year, school is getting out, the weather is turning, and families are putting together the finishing touches of their family vacations. The excitement of traveling somewhere new or maybe to that family tradition getaway can put assessing the condition of our homes on the back burner. Coming home after a great vacation should leave us feeling refreshed with a new prospective on life. But, if you come home to a flooded house your mood will change quickly to frustrated and upset. Let’s look at 5 plumbing points you should double check before leaving for an extended amount of time.
Water Heaters
This large tank (in most cases) holds 40-75 gallons of hot water that is always pressurized. Most water heaters last 8-10 years before the tank rusts out, leaks, and ruptures sending water pouring onto the floor. This water continues to pour in until someone manually turns off the cold-water shutoff valve to the home or to the water heater. Keep in mind most of the time this valve is stuck open because it has not been “exercised” therefore useless in an emergency. Do a visual inspection of your water heater, looking for water leaks or rust buildup. If your water heater is more than 10 years old consider replacement before leaving.
Sump Pumps
Sump pumps remove ground water from around your home on a continuous basis especially during rain. If power is lost or the pump stops working, your home is at risk of flooding. One can expect to get 6-8 years out of decent sump pump. Having a backup battery is a plus but keep in mind manufactures recommend replacing the batteries every 3 years. Having two pumps in one pit is also an advantage although most people don’t realize the first pump went out until the second one has failed. A sump pump system check is a must before departing for an extended amount of time.
Laundry Hoses
Laundry hoses are the hot and cold lines that connect the home’s water supply to the clothes washer. These are most often made of rubber, an inferior choice compared to stainless steel braided hoses. The concern with these hoses are that they are always under pressure and a weak link in the water distribution system. If one of these rubber hoses burst you will have water flooding your home. Due to age and condition consider replacing these hoses and/or shutting off the valves to the washing machine. Visually inspect for rust or leaks at the connections of these hoses.
Flood Control System
For our purposes in this discussion a flood control system will be considered a backwater valve with or without an ejector pump. These systems protect against the backup of the city’s sewer into your home. During a rain storm when the sewers and/or streets are overwhelmed with rain a home can experience back flow through their sewer. Therefore, a flood control would be installed. This system needs yearly maintenance to insure its components are in proper working order. Be sure to have this checked prior to leaving on vacation.
A leaky toilet can waste thousands of gallons a year and that equates to dollars down the drain. There are two main parts in a toilet that fail after 6-8 years. These parts control the water coming in and the water going out. While away, these leaky toilets can drain and fill several times a day causing your water bill to skyrocket. If you hear your toilet running or filling when no one has used it, you need to have it repaired. Turning off the supply valve while your away will conserve water from a leaky toilet. The above scenario is still an issue when your home and not on vacation but magnified when the house sits empty.
In conclusion, a well-maintained home is always important but especially when there is no one home to catch a plumbing mishap. Give yourself at least a couple weeks to address any issues before you leave. While spending money before a vacation is not ideal it may be a benefit in the long run. Enjoy those summer vacations and memories, you deserve it!!