water valveIt’s never too late to prepare your home for winter, especially if you’re going to be leaving your home for periods while you go on vacation. Here are a few pointers that can help you ensure that your home will be safe and dry all season long.

First of all, do you know where the main water shutoff valve is for your home? It’s normally near the spot where the waterline enters your house. Make sure that every adult in the house knows where this cutoff valve is. If you have a problem, being able to shut the water off quickly can help minimize the damage from running water. Surprisingly, many homeowners have never thought to look for this valve. The time to find it is BEFORE you’re in a panic because you have water spraying out of a burst pipe!

Take a minute to find the waterline to outside faucets. These should also be turned off and the line drained. You might want to wrap your pipes with insulation, especially ones near outside walls or in crawl spaces where there’s less heat. You can get pipe insulation materials at any hardware store or home improvement store.

While you’re at it, try to eliminate drafts around water supply lines. It will help keep the lines from freezing and also reduce your heating bills. Look for drafts in the basement, any crawl spaces, the garage and attic – even under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

If a water pipe freezes, use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw it, never a torch or open flame. Always be careful about the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

Finally, if you’re planning on traveling, be sure to keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature to keep the pipes from freezing. And it’s always smart to have a family member or friend occasionally check on your house to make sure everything is okay.

Many plumbing problems can be avoided with sensible maintenance. So take a little time to prepare your house for winter. It will save you lots of money and aggravation down the road.