Northern Wisconsin Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling

Spring Break Proof Your Home

It’s that time of year again when us Northern WI home-owners lock up our homes and travel as far south as our winter-weary bones can carry us. And we LOVE it. But, what about our homes? Sure, you locked the doors and windows on your way out. And maybe you even turned your thermostat down to 55°F like a pro. But, what about the rest of your home? Is your home prepared to handle (without you) the fluctuations in temperature that this time of year brings?

Your home may not be as disaster proof as you think. We deal with froze up and ruptured septic lines for vacationing home-owners ALL THE TIME during the spring. Why the spring? And why when the owners are gone?

It’s simple: Your home runs differently without you there. When you are home, you run plenty of water through your lines in using your showers, dishwasher, and laundry. When you are gone – the only water running is going out unintentionally, and in very small amounts.

That leaky faucet your swore you were going to fix? That toilet that drains ever so silently and slowly? They are both time bombs.

When we are called by homeowners who have just returned from vacation to a ruptured water line or frozen septic line backing up in to their home, more often than not, a leaky or slow draining fixture is one of the parties to blame. The expense of replacing a ruptured line out in your yard is not cheap, nor is having a professional cleaning crew come to your home and attempt to salvage the damaged areas.

But the real loss is what you can’t buy back or replace. Family photos, childhood toys, or family heirlooms. This time of year, we’re sad to find all of those things and more floating in raw sewage in home owner’s basements. I personally remember, as a teenager helping on a job, moving a wedding dress and album out of a sewage filled basement. The couple was devastated. It was a fairly new home in Eagle River, so they thought they were safe. The cost of repairing their home was not as big of a deal to them as they had great insurance, but all of their wedding photos and her dress were lost forever.

You can’t buy those back.

If you are headed south to enjoy some warm weather for a bit, here are a few things you can do to make sure your home is ready:

  1. Check all of your faucets. Do they leak AT ALL? It may just be an issue of turning them off all the way. Give the handle a good tightening, wait until it has stopped dripping, and put a paper plate under it. Come back in 5 minutes and see if there are any drip marks. One drip a minute will equal roughly 6 gallons of water draining in to your septic line in a day. That is more than enough to freeze up. http://ga.water.usgs.gov/drought/dripcalculator.html You will need to get either a ring replaced in your faucet, or the whole faucet may need replacement if it is corroded from hard well water.
  2. Check your toilets. Is there the soft sound of running water in the bowl well after flushing? That is either a leaky flapper in the tank, or the seal under it. You can get a new one from the hardware store for a few bucks if you are feeling ambitious and want to replace it yourself. Know that if you have hard water, you may need the seal underneath replaced as well.
  3. Get your home systems inspected. A pin-hole in anything puts your home in great danger. For $99, you can have a total-home inspection done by one of our highly trained plumbers (most extensively trained in Wisconsin – we’ve checked). That is much cheaper than what you would be paying in to the repairs with your insurance company should you return home and find that hell has frozen over in your basement. And for right now, if you use the code W30 when you call, we will take $30 off of your total home inspection. $69 is pretty cheap for peace of mind.

As always, know your home, and know what you don’t know. Take care of you and yours by crossing your “t’s” and dotting your “i’s” before you leave your home to the elements. You won’t regret it!

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