Preventing Winter Water Damage While Traveling

winter water damage

Preventing winter water damage while you’re away from home can make your trip more pleasant. You’ll be more relaxed while you’re gone, just knowing that hundreds of gallons of water from a ruptured frozen pipe aren’t inundating your house at that very moment. And, remembering that you took measures to avoid other damage such as ice dams on the roof or low-temperature extremes inside the house ensures a happy, stress-free homecoming, too. Before you leave for that winter getaway, here are some tips for preventing winter water damage.

  • Prevent frozen pipes. Make sure exposed spans of plumbing in the attic or crawl space are insulated with slip-on foam sleeves. Seal openings that allow freezing outdoor air to penetrate exterior walls where plumbing is frequently routed.
  • Keep indoor temperatures consistent. If outdoor temperatures are likely to dip below freezing while you’re gone, set your programmable thermostat in “Vacation” mode with a steady temperature of 60 degrees, day and night.
  • Shut off the water. Because things have a way of happening when nobody’s home, the best overall strategy to prevent plumbing-related indoor water damage is to turn off water to the house at the main shutoff valve. First, test the valve now, in advance, to make sure it operates freely and you can shut off water and turn it back on again. Since you’re turning off the house water supply it’s a good idea to also set your gas water heater in “Pilot Mode” while you’re gone so the main burner does not ignite.   
  • Avoid ice dams. Heat infiltrating your attic warms the underside of the upper portion of the roof, causing snow to melt more rapidly. Meanwhile, the lower portions of the roof remain frigid, forming ice dams near the gutters that obstruct proper roof runoff. The result: water pooling on the roof leaks into the attic and then down into living spaces, causing indoor damage. To prevent ice dams make sure your attic is properly ventilated, seal any air leaks in the ceiling and make sure your attic insulation is up to current standards.  

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