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Turning water off for vacation- yes or no?

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  • Turning water off for vacation- yes or no?

    Going to be leaving the house of a long vacation in a couple days- will be gone about four weeks. Trying to decide if I should:

    Do nothing- haven't ever had a leak, why would it start while I am gone in Atlanta during summer?

    Just turn off fridge icemaker and toilet valves- easy to turn back on again with no stress to plumbing...

    Turn off main water to house and completely turn off hot water heater and shut off the gas(there are lines in the house that might below the lowest point of the HW heater)

    Not sure if a complete water system shutdown would be good for pipes in a 30YO home, or necessary. Googling I get varied responses from "totally not necessary, and possibly bad" to "manditory".

    What say my trusted friends here on BT3K Central?

  • #2
    There are factors that can/do modify the answer.

    I got an emergency call from my sister recently, who had water shooting "out her washing machine", and all over the floor (in the kitchen across from a 220 stove). The water line to the washer had rotted (and in her case was improperly installed, because the mangled the threads on the spigot).
    I would at least turn off those.

    What material are your pipes? Do you have any copper/galvanized connections (pipe or hangers, aka dielectic rust).
    Does your water heater have a drain pan and overflow? Where is it? (second floor, shop, etc)
    Is anyone checking on the inside of your house when gone (use of "facilities")?
    Does Murphy pay you regular visits? (some people, if it weren't for bad luck, no luck at all...)
    She couldn't tell the difference between the escape pod, and the bathroom. We had to go back for her.........................Twice.


    • #3
      In my experience and what I've heard around the coffee pot the vast majority of catastrophic water failures is at the wash machine. I've personally heard of wash machine hoses blowing while the owners were out, but never anything else unless it was either being used (dishwashers) or had recently been worked on (toilets, water heaters, etc).

      Based on that, I'd shut off the water at the washer and leave the toilets alone. If you've never turned off your toilet shut offs, you could wind up with a leak due to unseating a hard and sedimented o-ring.

      I usually turn my gas hot water heater down to "Vacation", but leave it running. It has an automatic shut-off in case the pilot blows out, but it's fairly new (less than 8 years).
      - Chris.


      • #4
        I've personally experienced two instances of supply lines bursting: a hot water line under the kitchen sink and toilet supply line. I was close by when these blew, so I was able to shut it down before major damage. I'd hate to think what it would've been like had the hot water line ran for a week while we were on vacation. These were cheap nylon/plastic hoses, probably about 30 years old. I've since replaced all of them with SS braided hoses.

        I always shut off the water at the main shutoff inside the house whenever I go on vacation (even if we just leave for the weekend).

        I'm not sure how it could be bad for your pipes...seems to me the only stress on them is when you turn the water back on. Just turn it on slowly and/or leave a faucet partially open until the pipes fill and pressure builds back up.

        Drywall screws are not wood screws


        • #5
          For the length of time you'll be gone,

          you would have peace of mind turning the water off. As LinuxRandal mentioned, what material for piping? I've heard stories that CPVC, (the old cpvc plastic) fittings had problems. By turning it off you would not be spending your vacation time sweating bullets wondering if you got a leak...


          • #6
            i turn mine off.
            Loring in Katy, TX USA
            If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
            BT3 FAQ -


            • #7
              you are going to be gone for some time. it worth be worth while to shut the water before you go. since its is summer, you dont have any freezing conditions, so i would shut off the gas as well. it does add up.


              • #8
                My landscaping would all die if I turned off my water.

                We trade off house-sitting with another couple. They've had the main line, between the meter and the house, burst on two occasions when they've been away. I earned loads of karma points fixing those problems!



                • #9
                  If you would stay home, it will probably not leak. Go away for a few days, and mysterious gremlins go to work and wreak havoc on plumbing wiring, etc. DAMHIKT !!!
                  No good deed goes unpunished


                  • #10
                    I have always turned the water off and also the power off for the water heater. Also unplug computer and most electronics in case of power outage. Don't like the flicker nor the surge in the lines. Probably wouldn't hurt to unplug washer and drier if they are digital controlled also.

                    Always turn water back on slowly with at least 1 faucet open. I usually turn on 2, 1 in kitchen and 1 in back bathroom.

                    I'm a worrier,


                    • #11
                      I think it's a good idea to turn it off. The chances of springing a leak while you're gone might be small, but if you get one, you could possibly run into a major problem. We had a hose on the dishwasher spring a leak. Luckily we were home, or I would have had my hands full.

                      Do you know about kickback? Ray has a good writeup here...

                      For a kickback demonstration video