Most people leave their home unattended home for a week’s vacation—or even several weeks. However, Florida is one of the states with a significant number of seasonal or vacation properties that are unoccupied for months. Even with a friend or property management service periodically checking in, no one may be around to notice the first signs of trouble or take quick action if a major problem suddenly erupts. That’s why it is so important to ensure every security and protection.
1. Never leave appliances (dishwasher, washing machine or dryer) running when you leave, and check to make sure toilets aren’t running. Inspect plumbing and beneath cabinets for any signs of leaks or drips.
2. If possible, shut off the main water valve to the home—even for shorter trips—and drain water lines for extended periods. If that is not a good solution, turn off the water supply to individual fixtures including the icemaker, toilets, sinks, and water softener. Also consider installing a manual shut-off valve on the water supply to your washing machine and turn it off as well.
3. Replace any rubber hoses on your appliances such as washing machine or dishwasher with metal-reinforced burst-free hoses. Take the time for a brief inspection before you leave, since no hose lasts forever.
4. One of the major causes of leaks and burst pipes is water pressure set too high. Attach a simple, inexpensive water pressure gauge to a faucet and turn the water on full force for an accurate reading. If the PSI (pounds per square inch) reading is higher than recommended, install a pressure reducing valve.
5. Be sure that your hot water heater has been recently inspected. Shut off the gas to the water heater (or ask the gas company to do this for you) or turn the temperature control to a vacation setting.
6. Secure and lock all doors, windows, skylights and vents to keep out the wind as well as wind-driven rain.
7. If possible, disconnect all outdoor hoses and turn off the water to exterior faucets and sprinkler systems.
8. Freezing spells are rare in Florida but they can and do occur. Avoiding burst pipes is as simple as insulating pipes that are close to outside walls, attics or crawl spaces.
9. If someone is checking in on your home frequently, inexpensive water sensors can be placed near plumbing or beneath/behind appliances to provide a first alert for leaks and drips. More sophisticated and costly whole-house water-sensor systems can monitor and shut off the water supply to a specific appliance or to the entire house if a leak is detected. The expense may well be worth the peace of mind for homeowners who leave a vacant house for several months.
Whether occupying their Florida home or at a distance, Olympus Insurance customers have the ultimate assurance with a 15-minute response time for home water damage calls. The Olympus partnership with water-damage experts Rytech provides 24-hour emergency assistance, 365 days a year. The Olympus claims team is always standing by at 866-281-2242 or call the Rytech emergency line at 800-865-8787.