Hard Knox Plumbing Blog

Preparing Your Plumbing System for Summer Vacation

Summer vacations are a time for relaxation and fun; the last thing you want to worry about while you’re away is a plumbing disaster back home. Preparing your plumbing system before you leave can help prevent water damage, high water bills, and emergencies. Here’s a comprehensive guide from Hard Knox Plumbing to ensure your home’s plumbing is in top shape before you set off on your summer adventure.


Shut Off the Main Water Supply

One of the most effective ways to prevent plumbing issues while away is to shut off the main water supply. This step can protect your home from potential leaks and floods.


How to Locate and Shut Off the Main Water Valve

  1. Find the Valve: The main water valve is typically located near the water meter, in the basement, or outside your home near the foundation.
  2. Turn It Off: Rotate the valve clockwise to shut off the water supply. Use a wrench for extra grasp if the valve is hard to turn.
  3. Test: Turn on a faucet to double-check that the water supply is off. The flow should stop after a few moments.
Exceptions to Shutting Off the Water

If your home has automatic sprinkler systems or other water-dependent appliances that need to remain active, consider shutting off individual water valves instead. This approach allows you to protect specific areas while keeping necessary systems operational.


Check for Leaks and Fix Them

Before you leave, it’s crucial to inspect all faucets, showerheads, and toilets for leaks. Even a small leak can cause significant water damage if left unattended.


Identifying Common Signs of Leaks

  • Dripping Sounds: A persistent dripping sound indicates a leak.
  • Water Stains: Look for stains on ceilings, walls, and under sinks.
  • Damp Spots: Feel around pipes and fixtures for dampness or wet spots. 

Simple DIY Fixes

  • Faucets: Replace worn-out washers or O-rings to stop a leaking faucet.
  • Toilets: Check the flapper valve and replace it if it’s not sealing properly.
  • Showerheads: Tighten connections and replace gaskets if necessary.

For more complicated leaks, it’s best to contact our team of experts to ensure the problem is resolved correctly.


Inspect and Maintain Your Water Heater

Your water heater is an essential part of your home’s plumbing system. Before leaving, make sure it’s in good condition and set to save energy.


Turn Down the Water Heater

  • Traditional Water Heaters: Set to “vacation mode” or the lowest temperature setting.
  • Tankless Water Heaters: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to lower the temperature or turn off the unit. 

Check for Leaks or Issues

Inspect the water heater for any signs of leaks, rust, or unusual noises. Address any issues with the help of a professional to avoid problems while you’re away.


Drain and Clean Appliances

To prevent mold and mildew, it’s important to drain and clean your household appliances before leaving.


Steps to Drain and Clean

  • Dishwashers: Run a cycle with a cup of vinegar to clean and remove odors. Leave the door open slightly to allow air circulation.
  • Washing Machines: Run a hot water cycle with bleach or a washing machine cleaner. Leave the door open to dry.
  • Ice Makers: Empty and clean the ice bin. Turn off the ice maker to prevent it from running while you’re away. 

Prepare Outdoor Plumbing

Outdoor plumbing systems can also cause issues if not properly prepared.


Check Outdoor Faucets and Sprinkler Systems

  • Faucets: Ensure outdoor faucets are turned off and check for leaks.
  • Sprinklers: Inspect the sprinkler system for leaks and set the timer properly if it needs to run while you’re away. 

Drain and Store Hoses

Disconnect garden hoses, drain them completely, and store them in a dry place to prevent damage.


Pool and Spa Plumbing

  • Inspect for Leaks: Check all pool and spa plumbing for leaks.
  • Settings: Ensure timers and filters are set correctly to maintain water quality. 

Prevent Drain Clogs

Clogged drains can lead to backups and water damage. Take steps to prevent them before you leave.


Cleaning and Clearing Drains

  • Sinks and Showers: Use a drain cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clear any buildup.
  • Toilets: Flush to ensure there are no partial clogs. 

Recommended Products and Methods

  • Enzyme Cleaners: Use enzymatic drain cleaners that are safe for pipes and the environment.
  • Plungers: Have a plunger handy for minor clogs.

Remove any standing water in seldom-used drains to prevent odors and pests.


Install Water Leak Detectors

Water leak detectors can provide peace of mind by alerting you to potential leaks even when you’re not home.


Benefits of Water Leak Detectors

  • Early Detection: Detect leaks early to prevent extensive damage.
  • Alerts: Smart detectors can send alerts to your phone, allowing you to take action quickly. 

Choosing and Installing Detectors

  • Key Areas: Place detectors in the basement, under sinks, near the water heater, and other high-risk areas.
  • Installation: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and setup. 

Inform a Neighbor or Friend

Having someone check your home periodically can help catch any issues early.


What to Tell Them

  • Main Water Valve: Show them where the main water valve is located and how to shut it off.
  • Contact Information: Provide your contact information and that of your plumber.
  • Signs of Issues: Explain what signs to look for, such as unusual noises or water stains. 

Leaving a Key and Instructions

Give them a key to your home and clear instructions on what to do in case of an emergency.


Preparing your plumbing system before leaving for a summer vacation can save you from potential disasters. By shutting off the main water supply, checking for leaks, maintaining your water heater, draining and cleaning appliances, preparing outdoor plumbing, preventing drain clogs, installing water leak detectors, and informing a neighbor or friend, you can enjoy your vacation with peace of mind. Contact Hard Knox Plumbing for a pre-vacation inspection or emergency plumbing services to guarantee your home is protected while you’re away.