Returning home from a trip to find that a pipe has burst and flooded their home is many homeowners' worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon in the winter months when people travel to visit family and friends for the holidays and when the freezing temperatures make frozen and burst pipes a real possibility. If you're planning on traveling during the frigid winter months, follow these tips to ensure you don't come home to a disastrous burst pipe.
Leave the heat on.
You may be tempted to save some money by turning the heat off or really low when you're away. However, this is a mistake. A cold home increases the risk that your pipes will freeze, and when the water expands as it freezes, there's a chance it could burst open your pipes. You don't have to leave your home at a balmy 72 while you're away, but keep the heat dialed up to around 55 degrees to avoid this issue. Make sure the heating vents are open throughout the home so certain rooms do not end up colder than this.
Make sure your pipes are insulated.
There is always a chance your heating system will fail while you're away or that super-cold temperatures will perpetuate freezing in pipes that run along the exterior walls of your home. Making sure your pipes are insulated will help protect them in these cases. Take a look at the pipes in your basement. If there are any that are not wrapped in insulation, purchase some foam roll insulation at a home improvement store and place it around them, securing it with the zip ties that are usually included with the product.
If you have pipes running behind your walls that you're not sure are insulated, speak with a plumber. He or she can take a closer look and apply insulation if needed.
Have a friend stop by and run the water.
When the water is sitting stagnantly in your pipes, it has a greater risk of freezing. If you'll be gone for more than a day or two, consider having a friend stop by periodically to just turn on the water for a few minutes. This way, you will also know that if a pipe does burst, someone will be around to notice it more quickly. Make sure the friend who is checking on your home has your plumber's number, just in case.
For more information, contact a water damage restoration expert in your area.