Just suppose you are away from home on vacation, and the power goes off. In most cases your furnace won’t be working. When the temperature drops in your home, the water in your plumbing pipes can start to freeze, resulting in a burst pipe and water everywhere. The water will keep running until eventually somebody comes home and turns off the shut off valve for the whole house.  Most home insurance policies don’t protect you from damage caused by frozen water pipes if someone has been away from their home for more than four consecutive days, unless you have:

1. arranged for a competent person to check the home daily
2. shut off the water supply and drained all the pipes and domestic water containers

Please review your specific insurance companies policy to check your coverage.

This winter, one of our customers recently had a very large water damage claim. They were out of town, but their house was being checked daily by a friend. Unfortunately, a lot of damage can occur to your home during the time it takes for your friend to return to check on your house during a 24 hour period. When their friend returned a day later, the water had leaked into their furnace room floor, causing their furnace to short-circuit & stop working. The heat stopped working, the water that had leaked froze, and their friend saw a small skating rink inside the house when they returned.

We recommend that everyone should install an automated water shut off valve that will automatically shut off your main water supply when a water leak is detected. We also recommend a  ‘water leak sensor’ connected to and monitored by your home alarm company. Many home alarm companies have started to offer this new type of protection. Even with both a water leak sensor and an automated water shut off value, it’s still a good idea to shut off and drain all the water from your plumbing system when will be away from home.

Even though your insurance policy may provide you with insurance protection for water damage, it’s still extremely inconvenient and aggravating to have your home disrupted and in turmoil while you repair the damage caused by a burst pipe. You may not even be able to stay in your home while it’s being repaired, and have to live with friends or in a hotel for a while. You will have to go shopping to replace all your items that were damaged and can’t be salvaged. This will take up a lot of your time. What about damage to irreplaceable momentos that youv’e stored in the boxes in your basement ? Even if the monetary value will be insured and replaced, some items are not replaceable.

So next time you’re going to be away from home, or on vacation somewhere, consider shutting off the main water supply AND draining the water from all your plumbing pipes. If you don’t know where the shut off valve is or how to drain the water that is currently in your pipes, please contact a plumber. A plumber will come over to your house and show you where the shut off valve is and how to drain the water from your pipes. This will be a great investment of your time and money.