Prevent Frozen Pipes When You Travel for the Holidays

The holidays are on their way, and with them, travel plans for many people.  Going out of town for any extended period of time requires some preparation in your home prior to leaving, to ensure that damage or theft does not occur while you are away.  While some preparations are obvious, such as unplugging household appliances or making sure that your windows and doors are securely locked, there are other very important precautions that you should take to prevent unwanted damage to your home from happening while you are gone.

Water damage is one of the most expensive forms of damage that can occur in your home.  Repairs for this problem are costly and personal items that are ruined are often irreplaceable.  Most people do not think about this risk to their home as they travel, but they should.  Frozen pipes are more likely to occur when you are not home for many reasons.

  • Often, a family will turn the heat down in their house while they are away to save on utility bills.  This cost saving step can result in colder indoor temperatures that do not offset the colder outdoor temperatures affecting the pipes on the periphery of your home.  
  • Pipes are far less likely to freeze when water is moving through them.  In fact, having your faucet drip cold water in extreme weather is a good way to keep pipes from freezing.  If you are away, none of the pipes has water moving through them, making it more likely that pipes could freeze.
  • If you are away, you do not see the early warning signs of a pipe freezing, such as your water coming out of a faucet more slowly then usual.  Detecting a freezing pipe early can prevent damage to your home, but that isn’t possible if you are not there.

Before you leave, take a few steps to make sure that the pipes in your home are not at risk for this kind of damage.  One of the best ways to protect your home is to have a plumbing professional do a visual pipe inspection to make sure that pipes in exposed areas are properly insulated and are not leaking.  SSI performs such inspections, and can help you address these issues before they damage your home.  Whether it is a pipe that should be better insulated, or an area where the plumbing is in need or repair, their skilled professionals know what to look for and how to make the changes needed to protect your home.

Here are a few other tips.  If you do plan on reducing the thermostat temperature while away, do not set it below 55 degrees.  Any lower, and you risk having the temperature in your exterior pipes drop to an unsafe level.  Make sure to open cabinet doors under sinks in bathrooms and kitchens so that the temperature inside the cabinetry is the same as your home while you are gone.  Turn off the main water supply to your home. Shutting off the main water valve will not keep a pipe from freezing and bursting, but it will prevent water from flooding continuously into your home if the pipe unfreezes while you are away, thus limiting the damage.

The holidays are a great time to travel and see family and friends.  Make sure your home is ready for your absence by taking these small steps to ensure that your pipes do not freeze while you are away.

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