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shutting off water before vacation ?

Posted by abbey_cny (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 3, 12 at 10:42

I recently saw a bit on DIY Network about preventing potential water damage while on vacation. It showed how to shut off the water at the sink, toilets, washer, etc. Would it be just as effective to shut off the water to the whole house while on vacation? That would require one shut off instead of running to multiple rooms to individually do the shut offs. Just curious as I have never done this before but would like to before my next vacation, and I want to do it the proper way to avoid a disaster!

Thanks.

Abbey


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Yes, turning off the water at the main valve would accomplish the same thing. I'm familiar with a family that had a line burst during an extended vacation doing many thousands of dollars worth of damage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Thanks Mike! It seemed like shutting off the main water valve would accomplish the same thing, but I know that sometimes things aren't quite as simple as they appear, so I wanted to make sure.

Abbey


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

If you have a boiler fed by your main water supply you wouldn't want to turn it off in the wintertime lest you return to a lot of frozen pipes.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

No boiler to worry about thank goodness! Most of my vacations are in the warmer weather which precludes the possibility of frozen pipes. But I appreciate the advice!

Abbey


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Yes! Turn off the water. My friend's house was nearly destroyed by a flood in the house when they were away.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

The most common sourse of water problems is ice maker lines that go through an attic. Ours doesn't and I have never shut off water even when we are gone for a couple of weeks.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Turing off your water is a very good idea. Back about 10 years as a firefighter, I responded to a home that was reported to have smoke coming out of the eaves. It turned out that it was steam. With the homeowner away for the weekend the hot water hose going to the washer sprang a small leak. Not a lot of water leaking but the hot water made steam, the steam filled entire the house. Everything in the house was ruined. The sheetrock swelled up and was coming off the walls and part of the ceiling had come down. The damage was unbelievable.
So, not only shut off your water but occasionally check the condition of your hoses and lines going to your sinks & stools.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

You might want to cut the power to any plumbed-in devices that could be damaged if the water drained out of them. I unplug the instant-hot in the kitchen. And I turn the water heater down to minimum temperature ("vacation" setting). Would be even better to turn it off completely, but then I'd have to relight the pilot light to get it working again.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Yes most definitely turn off the water. We returned from a 4-day trip about 6 weeks ago to find a part in the tank of an upstairs toilet broke and the water flowed out of the tank. Entire flooring in the house (3600 sq ft), ceilings, walls, kitchen cabinets, appliances - all getting replaced. Our house looks like a war zone. I think it will be months before we move back in. That's one mistake we won't make again.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Scary. Our house is going to be unoccupied most of the winter, although we're going to be an hour and a half away, and my neighbours will look in on it. I'm in a cold area so the insurance co is pretty strict about it.

I put in a Floodstop shutoff, they market them as being installed next to your washing machine or water heater, but I put mine right after the water main shutoff. They're a full flow ball valve so, when open, offer no impediment to water flow. They have a battery backup as well as a plug adapter. You can also attach multiple sensors (sensors are very simple and you could make your own if you wanted) and place them in potential problem areas, and there's an output for an alarm system so it can trigger an alert. I really like it, and it does work.

I got mine from Aartech Canada, but you can get them from Amazon, Smarthome and other places.

The only alternative to daily (DAILY!) walk-throughs when the house is unoccupied according to the insurance co, UNLESS I drain all the appliances. I'm not sure what that really entails, but I'm assuming RV antifreeze in the bottom of the dishwasher, washing machine etc.

I'd be ok with that, but if I want to work on the house or whatever during the winter, I'd have to turn all the water back on.

If the water's shut off, obviously the HW heater needs to be turned off (gas, normally vented) but should I drain it? It has a vacuum breaker, and I'd leave hot taps on upstairs to ensure it has air flow into it.

Our water is very soft, which I'm sure is a good thing in this mothballing scenario.

I'm a plan-for-the-worst-hope-for-the-best type, so I'm progressively replacing all the sink and toilet shutoffs with ball valves, and putting in Floodsafe hoses. http://www.wattscanada.ca/pages/whatsnew/floodsafe_connectors.asp

I plan to have my alarm system installed, with smoke and heat detectors tied in, together with water and low temp detection, as well as intrusion, sometime during this time. There's some talk about doing a seasonal disconnect on the phone and internet, so that could pose some issues for the alarm communicating.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floodstop


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

If you're not already paranoid, I was looking at the hoses that were supplied with a new washing machine (I never use them, I always use the braided stainless ones) and was interested to note they had a "replace by" date on them!

Only around three years, too. I figured such hoses had a finite life and planned to replace them periodically, but I've never seen a date put on them. I wonder if that might become an issue with insurance companies?


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Those floodstop things look pretty cool but would one really need to install so many? why not just at the main valve? and even then, if the main valve is turned off, no need for one at all, except just for when you're away at work. a lot of damage can happen in just a few hours.

Our son was in our house 2 days prior to our returning home, nothing was wrong at that point. Isn't it strange that these things never happen when you're home??!!


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

It is odd, but Murphy's law I guess.

You're right, the floodstop hoses aren't really going to help if you shut off the water main, but, like you said, when you go out just for a few hours it can happen.

Another essential piece of hardware we all need is a pressure regulator at the point of entry to the house - if there's some sort of issue with the water service, the pressure could go up enough to damage stuff, including split lines. I discovered the one in my house was faulty and my water pressure sat around 130 psi for who knows how long. Fortunately, all my stuff is copper and there was never an issue.

I actually have gauges in my mechanical room now. One before the proposed (not yet installed) water filter, one after. Not only does it show me the pressure of the supply, it'll show when the filter needs to be changed (when there's an appreciable difference between the supply, and the line after the filter.)


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Meant to mention, the two most overlooked potential flood points are dishwashers, and washing machines.

I've seen a solenoid valve in a washing machine fail, fortunately I was home at the time. Lots of water in a short time.

Those handy box-in-the-wall things they have for washing machines now make shutting them off easy.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Years ago after Christmas break I went with my parents to take my sister back to college. My sister, bless her heart, instead of turning DOWN the thermostat on the way out the door, turned it to OFF. In Northern IL at New Year's, that was a problem. Two days later we came back to find the house at 25 degrees and the water frozen in the toilets. Miraculously, nothing broke. We thawed things out and went on our merry way.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Did you buy a lottery ticket after that? You should have...


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

DH is a plumber and insists on shutting off the water whenever we go out of town.

He gets calls regularly for pinhole leaks in copper pipes. I would hate to think what a pinhole leak could do in a couple weeks unnoticed.

He also turns off the breaker for the water heater, but that is more for energy saving than anything else.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

want to carry this just a little safer??

turn the water off..using the valve or a switch(well pump owners)..

then...

flush a toilet..that's right lower the pressure in the pipes.its easy to do..

hey after 10yrs in the handyman business and all the problems a simple water leak can cause, we now turn our water pump off before we leave for a weekend.

-dkenny


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

That's exactly what I did with the floodstop automatic valve, it makes the most sense to put it at the main shutoff, and just run remote sensors to the problem areas.

Good call on the flushing trick, do it at the lowest level you can in the house.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

One possible problem with turning off the well pump: If you have a well pit with a sump pump, and the sump pump is on the same circuit as the well pump, then you'll be shutting off the sump pump too.


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

Is below steps fine ? I am too paranoid about disturbing pressure in pipes and the extra precaution causing problem then benefits

Before going to vacation
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* Turn off water at main either at street access point or house access point
* Flush a toilet to lower pressure
* Put water heater on vacation mode
* Put house heater at 55-60 range

Coming back
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* Drain all pipes by opening all faucets and then leave only two faucets open one at higher level in house and one at lower level in house
* Turn on main water supply
* Put heater back on warm or hot setting


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RE: shutting off water before vacation ?

I want to shut off the water while on vacation. Do I need to turn the gas off on water heater. ( evaporation or no ? )


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