Who wouldn’t want to spend winter in Florida? As pleasant as your winters here are, living here part-time comes with special concerns. With your part-time home unoccupied for six or more months of the year, you may want to devote your first few days to settling in and the last few to making sure your second home will be ready for your return.
Being away from that home for so much time, you may find it easy to ignore the plumbing system. Just like so many other things, plumbing is easy to ignore when it functions as it should. Due to central Florida’s rapid growth, most homes have “newer” pipes and plumbing systems. Unlike back up north, frozen pipes are rare.
That doesn’t mean snowbirds don’t have special plumbing concerns, and it doesn’t mean Florida doesn’t present certain challenges to maintaining a functional plumbing system. Here are a few helpful hints:
- Shut off the valve – Regardless of where you live, shut off the main water valve to the house when you plan to be gone for an extended period of time. An undetected leak can lead to massive damage if you are away from the home for weeks or months at a time. Shutting off the water valve will prevent this from happening. Learn how to shut off the valve here (question below).
- Drain your water heater – Because of the high mineral content in central Florida’s water, it is wise to drain sediment from the bottom of your water heater a few times a year. Lean how to drain sediment from the water heater here (question below)
Adjust your irrigation – Adjust your irrigation heads before leaving for the summer. Again, our water if mineral-rich. This can leave rust stains on your house and other items where your irrigation heads spray water all summer, and you can return to a two-toned home.
- Special anti-freezing consideration – Normally, Florida does not experience freezes, and virtually every pipe in your home is safe from freezing. Because freezes are so rare, many systems are not rated for sustained temperatures in the 20s, and this can lead to burst pipes or malfunctioning valves. When the forecast calls for a freeze, be especially careful with exposed pipes outside. If there is a freeze, they will freeze first. Leaving an outdoor spigot running, just a trickle, will be a big help. It is important to know your system and make the manufacturer’s recommended preparations in case of the rare freeze.
- Get help from a friend – Arrange for a friend or neighbor to periodically check on your home. Strange things happen that are unforeseeable, and an ounce of prevention/early detection can be worth pounds of cure later.
Those are a small portion of the problems our residential service department deals with every day, throughout The Villages, Leesburg, Fruitland Park and so many other central Florida communities where our snowbirds stay for the chilly months.