Protect Your Plumbing When You’re on Vacation

It happens all the time. We'll get calls from concerned neighbors, telling us that they are taking care of a home while the homeowners are away for a few weeks, and there seems to be a problem. They usually call us when water is streaming out from the front door and from under the garage doors. Nobody wants a ruined vacation, so use these Toronto master plumber tips to ensure everything goes as planned.

Just last summer, we were called to a home in which the hot water hose that was connected to the washing machine, had developed a bubble and burst. The neighbour only checked in every three days, so who knows how long it had been leaking? All I know is that the patio was ankle deep in water, which seeped into the basement and the carpets were trashed. The parquet blocks were floating around and it was just a big mess.

Next time you go away from your home for an extended (or even a shorter) period of time, don't only focus on your vacation checklist, but also double-check the following to ensure you return to find your home in the same condition in which you left it.

Here's how:

1. Rely Upon a Trusted Neighbor

Ask a good neighbor to check in on your home every couple of days and to pick up your mail and paper. Leave a key with them, instead of hiding the key where someone else might find it. Be sure that you also give the neighbor the following:

  • a code for the alarm system
  • your vacation itinerary
  • phone numbers where they can get hold of you.

2. Prevent House Break Ins

Be sure that your house looks normal from the outside. If some shades are always open when you are home, it would be best to leave them open. Alternatively, you could ask your neighbor to open and close them daily. Also arrange for a garden service to maintain the lawn.

3. Protect Appliances

Turn off the ringer on your landline phone and turn the answering machine right down, as well as the power to your small appliances. Switch the stove and oven off by the wall, and cut the power to your water heater, whether it is by the gas shut-off or the circuit breaker.

4. Prevent Flooding

In case of some malfunction, be sure to shut off all your water-using electrical appliances, such as the washing machine, because even braided stainless-steel pipes can burst under pressure. Turn off the valve that supplies water to the water heater. While most ice makers have auto shut-off functions, you should turn it off under the sink or behind the refrigerator. You may have to use a bucket to prevent wetting the floor when you pull it out, but it's worth it. The dishwasher should also have a shutoff underneath the sink.

Our master plumber highly recommends that you use the main shutoff to cut the water supply to the whole house, particularly if your fixtures use cheap, plastic shutoffs, corrugated, flexible, or plastic risers.

Ensuring that there is no water supply will already go a long way to preventing flooding. However, we suggest that you call Alta Plumbing a few weeks before you go away to do a sump inspection too, just in case.

Written by Tanya Klien

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