One of the worst times for a home to experience flooding is when no one's around. If you own a home that's vacant, or you're heading out of town, there are a couple things that can be done to prevent your property from succumbing to water damage. Fortunately, it's pretty easy when you know what to do.
Check the Supply Lines
All the faucets in your home have a supply line that connects to the main water supply pipes. If the ones in your home are plastic, consider replacing them with stainless steel. They are much more resistant to breaking and leaking, and they tend to last longer. They also aren't terribly expensive, so if it's in your budget, replace the supply lines to the appliances as well.
Turn Off the Main Water
If you're planning to be gone for an extended length of time, and you don't need to have the water turned on, then shut off the main water valve. That way if a pipe does happen to burst, you don't have to worry about a constant stream of water flooding your home for an indefinite period of time.
Turn Off Individual Valves
If for any reason you need the water to stay on, maybe for the pet sitter or the neighbor who's coming by to water the plants, then you should turn off the water at individual locations in your home. This includes the toilets and bathroom sinks, dishwasher and washing machine, and even the ice maker. Leave one sink running for the pet sitter as well as the hose so your garden can get what it needs.
Plan For Freezing Temps
There's an excellent way to prepare a vacant home for water damage, and that's with frost-proof faucets. These go on the outdoor hose faucet—the one pipe on your property that's particularly vulnerable to cold weather.
If you end up replacing your outdoor faucets with the frost-proof kind, be aware that it's normal for them to drip a little after twisting them to the "off" position. Many homeowners will assume that it needs another hard twist, over-tightening the faucet and damaging the valve's rubber washer. When this happens, you could end up with a slow but steady trickle. So be aware that it could take a couple seconds for the drip to stop.
Ensure Proper Drainage
This is often overlooked but a very simple way to protect your vacant home from water damage. Dirty gutters can lead to poor drainage which makes the foundation weak and leads to settling. Before you know it, you've got cracks in the foundation as well as the interior walls.
Before vacating your home, make sure to clean the gutters thoroughly, and make periodic inspections to be sure that dirt and debris haven't accumulated in them. Also, downspouts should direct the water at least 5 feet away from the house.
Having a yard that is sloped can help you ensure proper water drainage, too. If possible, for every 10 feet, the ground should be sloped downward at least 6 inches. If your yard isn't sufficiently sloped, and you're concerned about flooding, a landscaper can help.
On the flip side of protecting your home from too much moisture, you'll want to be careful during times of drought, too. If the foundation gets too dry, the soil can shrink. Then when it rains, it quickly expands. Therefore, water the soil occasionally during the dry season so your foundation doesn't experience the shrinking and expanding that can cause damage.
Put in Emergency Shut-Off Valves
There are plumbing devices available on the market that shut the water off when a leak is detected. Again, this is the ideal option for the vacant home that still needs running water. Some insurance companies offer a discount if you use them, making them worth the investment. If, despite your efforts, your home floods, don't fret; a company like Complete Restoration Services can help you restore your home.