Winter will soon be officially over. If you're a snowbird, that means it's time to shut down your second home. If this was your first time heading to warmer climates during the winter, you might be familiar with the proper shut-down techniques. Unfortunately, that lack of knowledge could leave your second home susceptible to damage while you're away. This is particularly true when it comes to your plumbing. Before you shut down your second home, here are three steps that will help prevent plumbing problems.
Shut Down the Water Heater
Your water heater is going to be sitting dormant until next winter. A lot of sediment can collect during that time. One way to prevent water heater damage is to shut it down while you're away. The first thing you should do is flush the tank. Shut the power off to the unit and attach a garden hose to the water valve located on the front of your tank. Turn the valve to the "on" position and allow the water to drain from the tank. To help the water drain faster, turn a hot water faucet on inside your home. Once the water has drained from the tank, turn the valve to the "off" position, turn the faucet off, and disconnect the garden hose. Finally, turn the cold- water valve to the "on" position and refill the tank. Your water heater will now be ready when you return next winter.
Fix the Leaks
If you've got leaky pipes or toilets in your home, they could leave you with a mess to clean up when you return in the winter. To prevent water damage while you're away, be sure to repair any leaky pipes before you leave. It's also a good idea to check for leaks inside your toilet. Place a couple teaspoons of food coloring in your toilet tank and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. Check the toilet bowl. If the water in your toilet bowl has changed color, you'll need to fix the leak before you shut your house down for the off-season.
Check the Drain Covers
If you have a septic tank at your winter home, you'll need to make sure it's protected while you're away. If your winter home is located in an area that experiences torrential rain storms during the spring and summer, you'll need to protect your septic against flooding. The best way to do that is to ensure that the clean-out drains are covered properly. Before you leave your second home, check the drain covers. If they're damaged, be sure to replace them. This will prevent groundwater from flooding your septic tank.
Now that it's time to shut down your winter home, take the precautions described above to help avoid plumbing problems while you're away.