You’re so excited, you are finally taking that three week vacation to tour Europe this summer. You’ve packed your favorite walking shoes and your most comfortable traveling clothes, and you’re getting ready to leave for the airport. Or perhaps you getting ready to go back up North for the summer since our Southwest Florida “snow bird season,” is coming to a close. One thing you may not have thought about yet is protecting your home from the second most common damage empty homes face. And that, according to the Insurance Information Institute, is water damage to the house. That’s right, water damage is the second most common homeowners’ insurance claim. Leaking pipes and appliances, and damage caused by storms cause millions of dollars worth of damage every year. If a pipe leaks or bursts while you are on vacation, water can destroy carpets and furniture, and even compromise the structural integrity of your walls or foundation. Before leaving your home for more than a few days, prep your house so you won’t come home to a big, expensive mess.
Keep in mind that damage can be even more extensive when left unchecked for an extended period of time. Here are some tips on what you should do in terms of your water before you leave:
Many water meter setups have two valves, one on the street side of the meter and one on the house side. Typically it will be outside your home attached to an exterior wall or in an underground box with a removable lid. There are two types of main shutoff valves: the gate valve and the ball valve. The gate valve is common in older homes and has a round handle that must be turned a number of times to open or close the valve. Gate valves are designed to be fully open or fully closed. Water flowing through a partially open gate valve can wear away the metal and cause the valve to fail over time. The ball valve is more common in newer construction and has a lever handle that needs to be turned 90 degrees to turn the water on or off. You can immediately tell if it’s open or not: In the closed position, the lever is perpendicular to the pipes; in the open position it’s parallel.
If you’ve never shut off the main water valve before, test it before you leave on vacation. Turn on a faucet somewhere in the house and shut off the main water valve. All water flow should stop. An old gate valve can break, so be gentle when you’re handling it. If the valve is stuck, leave it alone. If it leaks or doesn’t shut off all the way, have a licensed plumber replace the valve.
If you can’t shut off the main water supply because you have an automatic sprinkler system or someone watering the plants while you’re gone, shut off the valves to the most common sources of water damage such as dishwashers, icemakers and washing machines, in case a hose cracks or lets go. Individual shutoff valves or “stops” are installed on the supply lines leading to most appliances as well as to toilets and faucets.
If you’re still not sure where the shut-off valve is, ask your plumber to show you where this is located and how it operates. Most importantly, check to make sure that the valve actually works!
Rubber or plastic supply lines that lead from shutoff valves to appliances, faucets and toilets become brittle and can leak or even break as they age. Since you’re messing with your shutoff valves anyway, inspect the supply lines too. If you find any leaks, cracks, bulges or signs of corrosion, replace the lines before you leave town. Don’t wait for a vacation to check your supply lines. With 10 minutes and a flashlight, you can inspect every line in your house
Be sure your gutters are clean, especially if you have large trees that hang over them. A 1,000-sq.-ft. roof will shed about 620 gallons of water during a 1-in. rainfall, or about 103 gallons per downspout if you have six downspouts. That’s a lot of water dumped right next to your foundation. Although it may seem obvious, clean and properly functioning gutters with downspouts that empty away from the foundation are key to avoiding major and expensive home repairs. Let’s face it, we get a ton of rain in Southwest Florida during the summer, and you want to make sure that water is directed away from your house’s foundation.
Brian is a Fort Myers Native and has been in the plumbing field for over 15 years. After learning the trade of plumbing as a young man, he worked for a large reputable plumbing company in Fort Myers for several years as a service plumber. He began his own water treatment company and at that time became, a State Certified, Licensed Plumbing Contractor. West Coast Plumbing has been a successful company for the past several and will be for many years to come.
Brian is originally from England, and has been in the plumbing field for over 10 years. He has been a lead technician with West Coast Plumbing since 2013. Prior to joining our West Coast Plumbing team Brian worked for another reputable plumbing company in the area. He has since earned a spotless reputation within the tri county area with our West Coast Plumbing Customers.
Hugh retired to Florida after owning a plumbing company in England. He has a lifetime of experience and has become an asset to our company. We highly value his experience and look forward to learning from it.
Cody has been a part of the West Coast Plumbing team since 2014 and has developed many skills since. He has become our water treatment specialist & installer, and maintains several commercial accounts. Cody is also a well-rounded plumbing technician, and commercial plumbing installer.
Stephanie has been in the plumbing business since 2003. Previously working for a reputable Fort Myers plumbing company as the new construction assistant manager. Stephanie has been a part of the West Coast Plumbing team since 2011.