Preventing leaks and water damage in your shore home over the winter takes a little bit of work all year. You just need to follow these four simple steps:
- Turn Off the Water Main and Monitor Your Bills
- Keep the Outside of Your Home Well-Maintained
- Replace Old Hoses, Appliances, and Fixtures
- Use Smart Devices to Watch for Problems
Even a small leak can turn into a big problem. That’s especially so if that “tiny” problem has months and months to worsen if you’re not using your shore home.
We’ve seen nightmare scenarios where a burst pipe has ended with a building being condemned after a flood and the water icing over.
Even less catastrophic cases can still be a massive headache and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs, restoration, and replacing damaged items.
Fortunately, we’re here to help! Follow these four steps, and you’ll significantly reduce the chance of a leak. Most of these are preventative measures, and almost all of them won’t cost you a dime.
Turn Off the Water Main and Monitor Your Bills
Obviously, the best way to avoid calling a plumber in the winter is to prevent any water from coming into the house! That’s why you turn off the water at the main at the end of the summer. But, our tip here goes a little further.
First, you can opt for Broadley’s winterization services. This is a step above just turning off the water main after Labor Day — which, of course, is always the first step.
With winterization, you’ll also be sure that all the water is drained from the house — anything hanging around in the washing machine, pipes, or elsewhere. If there’s an unrelated heating problem, for instance, you don’t want that freezing and causing excess wear on your pipes.
Next, monitor your water bill — in the winter as well as the warmer months. Is there a sudden increase when you’re not expecting it?
If so, the problem could be water leaking once inside the house, past the meter. This is tough to spot in the summer when you’re using a lot of water at a shore home. But, if you see a jump that doesn’t correlate with use, don’t ignore it.
And, speaking of the main, check your pressure! It may be tempting to increase the water pressure if a lot of people take showers at once.
If the water is coming in too instantly, you can damage hoses and pipes that aren’t prepared for that much force.
Keep the Outside of Your Home Well-Maintained
Leaks don’t only come from broken or damaged plumbing. You can also get water coming in if there’s any sort of buildup outside. Keeping a well-maintained exterior goes a long way.
Obviously, a problem with the roof can result in rainwater getting in. Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause a similar problem even if you don’t have broken shingles or a hole somewhere.
When that outdoor drainage system is clogged, water builds up on the roof, under eaves, or can stream down the side of your house. Eventually, it will find ways inside: any tiny hole, or even just pushing on any surface that’s not watertight.
So, make sure your gutters and downspout are clear. Watch for any signs of buildup anywhere.
And, make sure your trees or hedges are well-maintained. Underground, roots can wrap around pipes and make their way inside. On the surface, they can mask warning signs, cause clogs, or allow water to build up if they block drainage paths.
Replace Old Hoses, Appliances, and Fixtures
Next, make sure to replace anything that’s looking old or worn-out. They may not be causing a problem yet, but you’re much better off upgrading before noticing any water damage.
Hoses can become brittle and break over time. In this case, we’re talking more about the ones attached to your washing machine or dishwasher than we are about outdoor fixtures.
Similarly, a decades-old toilet or even sink can cause a problem after a while. You may not have to replace these — that can get expensive. But, at least, make sure everything is sealed and working correctly.
That’s especially the case with toilets. For instance, the wax seal at the bottom of the bowl can, and will, degrade over time. Eventually, water can start seeping out.
On a smaller scale, that includes shower heads and faucets. A drip may not be as damaging as a leak, but it can still cost you a lot of money. And, eventually, that small problem can become a lot bigger.
Use Smart Devices to Watch for Problems
Anyone can use a little help keeping an eye on their home for damage. But, it’s even more crucial for people with shore homes because no one’s there for months at a time. That’s where today’s best smart devices come in.
Our plumbers at Broadley’s recommend using a smart thermostat paired with water sensors from Alert Labs. These two devices working together will give you peace of mind all year long.
We’ll start with a smart thermostat. These new gadgets do a better job of monitoring the temperature than older digital devices. You can access and control them from virtually anywhere because they link up to tablets and phones.
They also alert you when there’s a sudden spike in energy usage. Now, that doesn’t let know about a plumbing problem directly.
But, if there’s a broken window in January, for instance, you’ll know thanks to an alert about your home suddenly using a lot more heating. This way, you can fix it before you end up with broken pipes or other damage.
More direct are flood sensors and water flow sensors. For Jersey shore homes, these are becoming all but essential.
Our plumbers highly recommend the sensors from Alert Labs. They’ll detect leaks near walls or appliances, and send you an alert if something goes wrong. Depending on your home and your needs, there are a few products and configurations to choose from.
Emergency Plumber in Ocean City, NJ
If something does — or has — gone wrong with the water in your home, you don’t have much time to spare. You can call Broadley’s emergency plumber services anytime, day or night, and we’ll get someone out there as fast as possible.