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How To Prevent Plumbing Problems In Your Big Bear Lake Vacation Home

Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating


Little do homeowners know that a house needs some special attention for the plumbing system if it is going to sit empty for any length of time. Unfortunately, plumbing problems can arise if it sits without being used. The consequences can be significant if you’re not home to have it fixed.

How Do Plumbing Problems Arise in an Empty Home?

Plumbing Problems can arise in an empty home for several reasons. Usually, most people shut off the water in their homes when traveling, which may cause the pipes to corrode since they are not doing the primary function. Also, the external pipes may burst due to extreme Big Bear weather.

Besides, the home may have a damp feel, especially because of the lack of ventilation in a shut home. And generally, plumbing problems sometimes arise from the natural wear and tear of plumbing. In the absence of anyone to check it, these issues can become too drastic and damage your property.

Vacation Mode

Keeping your home in vacation mode is the easiest way to avoid these issues. Vacation mode refers to all the steps that a homeowner takes to have the home hibernated in his absence. This vacation mode ensures that the house is not fully shut down in such a way that plumbing fixtures break down from no lubrication, and also ensures the house isn’t kept completely running in such a way that you can conserve energy and avoid damage to your plumbing fixtures.

Preliminary Steps to Take Before Leaving Your Vacation Home

Conduct Checks

Before you travel, you need to look around your home for any damage at all so that no you can fix it before traveling. For example, check for leaks in your toilet, kitchen, pipe bursts, and sewer lines before traveling. This will help you fix any issue before it gets out of hand in your absence.

Get a Home Sitter

A home sitter can save you a lot of stress when traveling. This person will conduct routine checks and run the pipes and taps in your absence.

First, look for someone you can trust and who has the time to check your home once every two weeks. This can be a friend, a relative living in town, or a close neighbor. Then, show the person what to do and where every switch is. Also, you should share emergency contacts like your plumber’s number in case there’s a sudden pipe burst or a leak that needs to be fixed.

Call Your Plumber

This is not an essential step but could help you put your house in good order and reassure you, especially if you won’t be back for a long time.

You can have your plumber check your house before you leave. This allows you to discover any plumbing issues in areas of your home you may have missed and have them fixed ahead of time. Also, letting your plumber know you are not around allows them to work hand in hand with your home sitter and respond as soon as they are contacted.

General Steps to Keep the Home Running While You Are Away

Here are some general tips to keep your plumbing fixtures in great condition in your absence.

Keep Water Running

You have probably been told otherwise most of your life, but don’t turn off the water supply to the house. The plumbing system in the home is meant to hold water. The fixtures like commode, sinks, showers, and bathtubs all have areas of the pipe, or in the fixture itself, that are meant to keep a certain amount of water in it. But when a home sits empty, and no one uses the water, the water evaporates and therefore isn’t present like it needs to be.

This will prove to be a problem when you return.

Check the Water Heater

Some water heaters have an automatic vacation mode, which helps homeowners keep the heater and pipes in the best condition when traveling. However, if your heater doesn’t have a vacation mode, you can simply adjust the setting to the lowest temperature. This will help keep it running without the danger of freezing or corroding.

Flapper Valves

The toilet flapper valve is responsible for most toilet leaks. Usually, the valve controls the amount of water released into the toilet bowl; however, this valve can get hung up.

So, before leaving, run this test on your toilet.

  • Turn off the water valve
  • Hold the flush handle down until the tank is empty
  • Adjust the chain attached to the flapper and check the length

If the chain looks short, this means the flapper will not close. If it looks too long, it won’t open before the flush is completed. Have someone routinely check every few weeks after you leave to prevent leaks and damage in your bathroom.

Remove Clogs in Drains

Removing clogs in drains is basic, even when you are home. Clogged drains are terrible for many reasons, but they are worse in a vacation home because the smell can become very repugnant after a long time. So, check your drains before leaving to ensure there are no clogs and flush water down the drain to eliminate debris completely.

This will help keep your home in good condition for your return.

Have a Home Sitter Check The Plumbing

Water should be present in the pipes because if it’s not, gasses bubble up as they always do from the septic system, but this time they’re allowed to escape into the home. That means that all the time the home sits and the water is missing, dangerous methane can be building up in the home. Not only can it be dangerous over time if the home is tightly enclosed with little natural ventilation, but it can also be very stinky and toxic.

So, have the home sitter come by every two weeks and flush the commodes and run water through the water pipes wherever there are drains like in the shower, laundry room, sinks, etc. That way, there’s no stench or danger when someone enters the home.

Leaks & Frozen Pipes

Another issue common with unoccupied homes is frozen pipes or leaks springing out of nowhere.

You’ll want to ensure some power in the home so you can keep the HVAC system at a decent temperature to prevent freezing. Warmer indoor temperatures help the pipes in the exterior walls and near foundations to keep from freezing. You don’t need it warm necessarily, just not too cold where there’s no heat getting to the pipes.

You can install a heating tracing cable on the pipes to keep them from freezing. Again, have someone regularly come by to check the plumbing and watch for leaks.

Wrap The Plumbing Pipes

Ensure all the outdoor or exposed plumbing faucets or pipes get covered and properly insulated during the winter. What can happen if the home sits and the pipes freeze?

You could be returning to your vacation home to face the aftermath of a horrible leak. Water expands as it freezes because it takes up more space, yet the pipes only hold under so much pressure. Expanding water makes them burst because there’s nowhere else for the water to go.

You don’t want to end up with leaks that flood the home when no one’s there. And, you don’t want to deal with a surprise flood the first time you come back to the house. So, it’s best to insulate and wrap your pipes and do a lot of prevention instead of fixing them later.

Before returning to your vacation home, have your home sitter do one last inspection and keep the HVAC on, especially if it’s winter in Big Bear Lake. The last thing you want is to come home to, when you should be relaxing after a long flight, is plumbing issues.

All in all, the plumbing is often neglected when a home sits empty because owners don’t understand what the plumbing system needs. If you cannot take care of some preventative measures, just give our expert Big Bear plumbers a call here at Bear Valleys Plumbing & Heating, and we’ll go over and do an inspection to ensure everything is as it should be!

Call Bear Valley Plumbing Team to Fix Your Plumbing Problems

If you are looking for a Big Bear plumbing, heating & air conditioning contractor, please call (909) 487-1322 or complete our online request form.

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If you are looking for a Big Bear plumbing, heating & air conditioning contractor, please call (909) 584-4376 or complete our online request form.