I’m going on vacation. Should I take extra steps?

The damage from a frozen water pipe could be even greater if you aren’t around when it bursts. “These tend to be big claims because the water almost always runs a lot longer,” says ERIE Agent Mark Murdoch.

If you are planning to head out on a lengthy vacation or you are the caretaker of a property you seldom visit, the following tips can help.

  • Cut the water from its source. Turning off the main water valve in your home is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your pipes from freezing. It’s also one of the most important. This valve is located in a different place in every home, but it is most commonly found in a basement or crawl space. First locate your water heater—the main water valve is probably located nearby.
  • Empty your outer faucets. Once you’ve turned off the main water valve, head outside and open the faucet you use to connect your hose to the house (this is called the hose bib). Allowing the water to drain out of this pipe will prevent that water from freezing during the winter.
  • Use for windshield washer fluid in a new way. For most people, windshield washer fluid stays in the garage. But if you’re headed on a long vacation, it has a very important use in your home. Before you go, pour about two cups of the fluid into all of your drains, including your sinks, showers and bath tubs. Using windshield washer fluid reduces the risk of freezing. Finish by pouring four cups into each toilet–but don’t flush it. This will also help keep your pipes from freezing.

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