'Tis the season for joy, cheer, and a well-deserved vacation! But before you trade your house keys for hotel cards, there are a few tasks around the house that could use some holiday spirit.
Just as Santa checks his list twice, we've compiled a checklist to ensure your home stays safe and sound while you're away, focusing on plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. After all, the only thing you want freezing this winter is your ice cream, not your pipes!
- Turn Off the Water: This might seem like an extreme measure, but it can save you from a world of trouble. By turning off the main water supply, you effectively eliminate any chance of water damage due to leaks or pipe bursts while you're away. Usually, the main shutoff valve is located in the basement, garage, or outside by the water meter.
- Drain Your Pipes: Once the water is turned off, it's time to drain the pipes. Open all faucets, showers, and flush toilets to clear out remaining water. Don't forget outdoor spigots and hoses too! This step is particularly crucial plumbing in Broomfield, Colorado where temperatures drop below freezing. Empty pipes are less likely to freeze and crack, potentially saving you from significant repair costs.
- NOTE: While turning off your water supply can be a great way to prevent potential leaks or water damage while you're away, it may not be suitable for all homes. If your home uses a boiler or steam heating system that relies on your water supply, turning off the water could potentially disrupt your heating system and may lead to serious damages. Always consult with a professional plumber or heating specialist before making significant changes to your home's water supply, especially if you have a specialized heating system.
- Check for Leaks: Small leaks can quickly escalate into severe problems, especially if left unattended for days or weeks. Inspect your home thoroughly for any signs of leaks - damp spots on walls or ceilings, dripping faucets, or running toilets. If you spot any issues, it's best to call in a professional plumber to fix them before you leave.
- Keep Your Water Heater Cozy: Your water heater works hard to provide hot water whenever you need it. But when you're away, it doesn't need to work as much. If you'll be gone for more than a few days, consider adjusting your water heater to its lowest setting or 'vacation' mode if it has one. This will not only save energy (and money on your utility bill!) but also reduce the strain on your water heater, prolonging its lifespan and preventing potential damage.
Heating and Cooling Tips
- Adjust the Thermostat: While it might be tempting to turn off your heating system completely when you're not home, this can actually lead to more harm than good, especially in colder climates like Broomfield Colorado where the risk of frozen pipes is high. Instead, lower your thermostat setting to around 55°F (12°C). This temperature is generally low enough to save energy and reduce your heating bill, but still warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing.
- Seal Your Home: Even minor drafts from doors and windows can make your heating system work harder than it needs to, leading to wasted energy and higher utility bills. Before you leave, check all doors and windows for drafts. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal any gaps you find. Not only will this help keep your home warmer, but it will also make your heating system more efficient.
- Clean Your Gutters: It may not seem immediately obvious, but your gutters play a crucial role in keeping your home warm and dry. Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and seep into your home's walls, potentially damaging insulation and reducing your home's ability to retain heat. Make sure your gutters are clean and clear of debris before you leave, ensuring that any precipitation can flow freely away from your home.
- Service Your HVAC System: Just like a car, your HVAC system needs regular maintenance to run efficiently and reliably. Consider scheduling a service appointment before your vacation. A professional can clean and inspect your system, identify any potential issues, and make necessary repairs. This preventative measure can give you peace of mind knowing your heating and cooling system is in good working order while you're away.
- Unplug Electronics: Many electronics continue to draw power even when they're turned off, a phenomenon known as "vampire energy." By unplugging devices like televisions, computers, and small kitchen appliances, you can save energy and reduce the risk of electrical fires. It's also a good idea to unplug larger appliances like washers and dryers, which can be damaged by power surges.
- Ask a Neighbor to Check In: Even with all preparations, it's always a good idea to have someone you trust check on your home while you're away. They can collect mail (a full mailbox can signal to potential burglars that nobody's home), water plants, and generally keep an eye out for anything unusual. Plus, if an unexpected issue does arise, such as a power outage or severe weather, they can alert you so you can handle it promptly.
- Secure Your Home: Before leaving, make sure all doors and windows are locked, including those on upper levels and in the garage. If you have a security system, ensure it's activated and functioning properly. You might also consider adding timer switches to your lights, which can give the impression of activity in the house even when you're not there. Additionally, refrain from broadcasting your absence on social media; you never know who might see that information and use it to their advantage.
Remember, the best way to enjoy a stress-free vacation is knowing your home is safe and secure. With these tips, you can sip your eggnog without worrying about a home disaster.
The professionals at Craig Plumbing, Heating & Cooling can help you with many of these tasks and make any repairs that may be needed before you leave. Contact Us for any plumbing, heating or cooling HVAC needs.
So, go ahead and plan that trip. Your home has got its own holiday survival guide now!
Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!