As we head into the hard-core summer vacation period, take it from the Coop, I’ve learned from experience that preparing your house for vacation, is as important as packing your underwear! Better to be prepared than suffer the consequences! Here’s my checklist for a worry-free vacation from a plumbing and HVAC perspective:
1. First, perform preventative maintenance on your plumbing fixtures to take care of any potential issues before they happen. Either call a professional plumber, like Cooper Mechanical, to formally inspect your fixtures, hoses and piping to look for any leaks and irregularities or, if you’re a weekend DIY warrior, do the job yourself. Little leaks can turn into major catastrophes if they’re not addressed in a timely fashion. Do I have to remind you of Murphy’s Law?
2. Then, test your sump pump by pouring some water into it and making sure it turns on and drains the water. Just in case there is an unexpected storm or flooding emergency, you’ll want to depend on your sump pump to operate correctly while you’re away.
3. Next, turn off the water valves to your washer and dryer – particularly if they’re located on the 2nd floor. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a river of water that originates from your upstairs laundry room! And since many people wash lots of laundry in preparation of vacation, be sure to keep the door of your washer open so that it dries completely and doesn’t get a musty smell. FYI, did you know that the rule of thumb is to replace your washer hoses every 3-5 years? It’s easy!
4. If you’re leaving home for more than a few days, we recommend that you turn-off the main valve to your water system
5. For homeowners who utilize a well tank, be sure to turn off the electrical breaker to the tank so that it’s inoperable. If you use a boiler system, consult a professional plumber to find out whether tips 4 & 5 are appropriate advice for you. In some cases, the water supply must remain on to eliminate the possibility of damage to the boiler. In addition, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, you’ll want to keep the water supply on.
6. Turn off your water heater or with some models, switch to vacation mode. No need to keep your water heated while you’re away.
7. For maximum peace of mind, you may want to consider installing an emergency flow switch like the Water Cop brand that we carry at Cooper Mechanical. This equipment is designed to sense a leak 24/7. In most cases, this type of equipment can be connected to your existing home automation/security system with simple low voltage wiring.
8. Now to the kitchen area: Make sure your garbage disposal is free of debris by flushing it with cold water and a few ice cubes to make sure it is clear. This will alleviate any foul smells emanating from your sink upon your return. BTW, while you’re in the kitchen, empty the trash and clean out your refrigerator
9. I’ve covered the plumbing side, but I’d be remiss not to mention your air conditioner! Turn up the temperature of your A/C and close your blinds or curtains to block the heat from the afternoon sun. Why not save some money on your electric bill this month! For those of you who prefer to turn off your air conditioner completely, keep in mind that if you’re A/C doesn’t run for an extended period of time, the humidity inside your house may get high, causing damage to wooden floors or furniture and increasing the possibility of mold/mildew.
10. Lastly, for those of you with Wi-Fi thermostats, adjust the setting from any mobile device BEFORE you return home so that your house is comfortable upon arrival.
One more thing: why not ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check your house once a week to make sure you don’t return home from vacation with an awful surprise waiting for you!