As a builder for the past 35 years, I would encourage your readers to take the time now that the “polar vortex” has passed to locate and familiarize themselves with a few items around the house.
Locate the water shut off, know its location and how it works. If it is a gate or ball valve, close it, then open it. If you feel it is stiff and are afraid of attempting this, please call a plumber to loosen the valve or change it. Being able to close this valve can save a fortune when the pipes break or rupture.
Locate the water service meter pit outside your home. Know its location and how to shut off the main water source. An adjustable wrench will be needed to perform this task and having one set aside for just this purpose may save you from having gallons of water within your home. Many hardware stores sell a meter wrench, which is called a “curb key.” It will allow you to shut off your water meter from a standing position and save additional time. Keep the snow off the pit lid. It will make your life much easier if you need to find it. I generally will go through my home opening and closing all water shut offs, sinks, toilets and water heater to keep them in working order. This is a simple task that requires little effort, but may yield big dividends in the event of a water line break.
If you have a sump pump, check and make sure it is in working order. Many of us have these located in our crawl spaces or basement and pay little attention to them until they are needed — and then it’s too late.
Check and replace your furnace filters, make sure the furnace exhaust is not obstructed, and if you can afford it, please have your furnaces and air conditioning systems thoroughly examined by your heating contractor at least once a year and if possible in the spring and fall.
If you have exterior drains around the house, simply clean them so they are free flowing. Many homes have drains located outside the garage doors, and these grated drains become clogged and are rarely, if ever, cleaned. Take the time to pull the grate, clean the gutter, clean the exhaust pipe, replace the grate and you may save having water in your garage, house, etc.
Gutters play a major role in diverting water away from the home. Have them cleaned or clean them yourselves. Free-flowing downspouts with no outlet obstructions may save your home from water penetration. Bloomington has experienced three 100-year rain cycles in the past four years, and the most recent dumped five inches in many places locally. Clogged gutters cause more basement leakage then anything else. Keep them flowing and your headaches will be fewer.
Most of these preventative measures can be performed by the homeowner and will result in financial rewards that can’t be measured.
Peace of mind is worth a lot.