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  • Shut off the water when on vacation?

    Do you guys shut off your water when you go on vacation? It's easy to shut ours off but what about the gas water heater? I'd hate to somehow have that water get used up and the water heater run dry. I'd put that on vacation mode, too. On the flip side, when I get back, I wouldn't want to wait for all that water to heat up so that's the only reason why I'd leave the water heater on.

  • #2
    I've seen random failures of toilet seals and stuff. In that case you could have continuous water running for weeks. Worse, I've seen a neighbor's house where a pipe under the sink just let go (water hose connecting the dishwasher, in restrospect, probably) but it could also be the icemaker or the washing machine. Several days or even weeks of runaway water could be catastrophic. Yes, it could happen while home but usually you find that quickly. Still damaging but not as bad.

    So I turn off the water when I'm out of town. Fortunately there's a cut off after the meter and then another where it enters the house. If I cut it off at the house then the sprinkler still works and the grass won't be dead when I get back.
    I haven't thought about cutting off the gas heater. Too many pilot lights to restart, well, four.

    As for AC, I set the temp at about 83F or so. It's so humid in Houston the humidity will creep everywhere if we turn off AC. In the winter we always leave the Heat set for 60- something. The pipes are all in the walls and attic so if the heat is completely off we get a prolonged freeze, the pipes will burst and flood the house. Turning both water off and the heat off is not the solution; it will crack the pipes and flood when you return and turn the water on!

    On rare winter cold fronts where it gets to the mid-upper 20's and stays there for a couple of days (Seen it once or twice in 40 years) you home plumbing can freeze in the walls and attic even when the heat is on normal settings. You have to let one or more faucets drip as a precaution... the utility co doesn't like it but its cheap insurance.
    Unfortunately that's the way houses are built here. concrete slab on dirt. Water enters through the side, goes up and into the attic laying on the rafters where drops go down inner and outer walls. No pipes buried below the slab. A layer of insulation is laid (batts) or blown over the rafters burying the pipes. But attics here have vents and soffets so cold air can blow quite freely through your attic. Its mostly to help the attic cool in the summer months.
    Last edited by LCHIEN; 08-02-2016, 01:46 AM.
    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 - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

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    • #3
      We use to cut off everything when we were gone over 4-5 days, but in the summer it would take the ac hours to cool the house off. That ain't good when you get home at midnight and ready to crash in bed and have to wait for the house to cool. Now I just bump the thermostat about 5 degrees up/down. I don't turn off the water because my garden is on a daily timer.

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      • #4
        We will turn down the heat/turn up the AC but nothing else (except leave some lights on timers)

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        • #5
          I, likewise turn off the water when leaving for a week-end or more. With 50 year-old plumbing it gives me an added degree of peace of mind. I also turn the water heater to pilot setting. With the insulation in modern water heaters, very little 're-heating' is needed when I return.
          Last edited by thiggy; 08-02-2016, 08:44 AM.
          SOW YOUR WILD OATS ON SATURDAY NIGHT - - - THEN ON SUNDAY PRAY FOR CROP FAILURE!

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          • #6
            Thanks all. I'm going to play it safe and shut off the water and turn off the water heater. Who knows. We might want cold showers after days in the car. The tomatoes will have to fend for themselves and wait for rain.

            Our pipes are 20 years old--CPVC. Although I've never had one break, it's always disturbing how much "snap" there is when cutting into old CPVC vs new from the store.

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            • #7
              Atgcpaul, I think that turning off water is a good idea. I'll probably do it our next long trip. I helped a friend work on the cvpvc in his house, probably 20-30 yrs old. I tried cutting his pipes with my PVC cutters, the ratchet ones like garden shears, and the piping would just shatter, even cold water pipes. Not at all like new cpcv does. Makes me really doubt the life expectancy of the material.

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              • #8
                I still have the other house (the last place we lived) which is in Painted Post, 75 miles west of here. We return there every two weeks to mow the lawn, clean the house, check everything out, etc. When we leave we turn off the water, but keep the gas and electrical on for the furnace and water heater. Water-shutoff is a simple 1/4-turn ball valve, so it's easy to turn on or off.

                I do think it is good practice to shut off the water as a safety. For example, this past winter we returned to the house to find it was only about 40 degrees in the house. The furnace is less about 12 years old and we keep the thermostat set at 55. On inspection, I found the furnace was shut off and flashing a fault. A quick service call found the gas valve had failed and a auto-shutoff had been initiated. Quick and low-cost repair/replacement, but had the temperatures been lower and the water not shut-off it could have been a major disaster.

                When we bought this old house here in Binghamton and one for the first projects was to have the kitchen remodeled. The idiot who did the work didn't insulate properly and a line froze that very first winter, splitting open a copper elbow right below the kitchen sink. We hadn't completely moved in yet and was still primarily living in Painted Post. Upon opening the entry door we were met with a steamy mess, with water running across the kitchen floor and dripping into the basement laundry room. Fortunately, I think that fracture happened earlier that freezing morning, as the water from the line was still running hot. (I figured if it run for several hours the water would have been fairly cold.

                Some warping of the kitchen sink base cabinet occurred, but that was easily repaired. Lesson learned: Turn off the main water shutoff valve!

                Most appliances using gas have auto-safeties built in, and the electrical panel has it's circuit breakers, so in most cases a problem in either gas or electrical will be safely handled. Water however doesn't have anything that will terminate flow should there be a frozen line or a corroded or leaking water line.


                CWS
                Last edited by cwsmith; 08-02-2016, 12:32 PM.
                Think it Through Before You Do!

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                • #9
                  I am wondering why would the hot water heater run out?
                  So you turn off the main shutoff, that still means there is water in system. Were you planning on having someone stop by and check the place out? Is that why you think it will run out of hot water?
                  If they are checking things out, they should know where the shutoff is and that it is turned off.
                  We (my work) have a customer that lived in hotel for around a month. During one of our heavy storms this year, they couldn't hear the water running in the house. When they got up in the morning (it was still raining), they stepped out of bed and onto a wet floor. The plastic female threaded connection that is part of the supply line to the toilet, cracked and ran for 12 hours straight. Upper floor, ruining all the carpet, subfloor and drywall damage, as it rained down through the house.
                  She couldn't tell the difference between the escape pod, and the bathroom. We had to go back for her.........................Twice.

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                  • LCHIEN
                    LCHIEN commented
                    Editing a comment
                    the only reason to run the HW heater dry when the water supply is cut off is to run hot water. Either someone (housechecker) got in and turned on the HW tap and left it on, or a hot water tap sprung a leak.
                    At least that's all I cam think of.

                • #10
                  How many foreclosed houses were ruined by water pipes freezing after the owners moved out and the electricity was turned off?

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                  • LCHIEN
                    LCHIEN commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Probably lots. The banks didn't have the manpower or will or forethought to protect their investments.

                • #11
                  Originally posted by atgcpaul View Post
                  Do you guys shut off your water when you go on vacation? It's easy to shut ours off but what about the gas water heater? I'd hate to somehow have that water get used up and the water heater run dry. I'd put that on vacation mode, too. On the flip side, when I get back, I wouldn't want to wait for all that water to heat up so that's the only reason why I'd leave the water heater on.
                  I turn off the water and the tank water heater (tankless can remain on). In some areas, the water meter attaches to the main with a slip joint and rubber compression ring. These tend to push off over time, leaving the inlet pipe wide open. After coming home one day to the sound of running water and 6" of water in the basement, I turn off the water if I am going to be gone for more than a day.

                  --------------------------------------------------
                  Electrical Engineer by day, Woodworker by night

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                  • #12
                    On rare winter cold fronts where it gets to the mid-upper 20's and stays there for a couple of days (Seen it once or twice in 40 years) you home plumbing can freeze in the walls and attic even when the heat is on normal settings. You have to let one or more faucets drip as a precaution... the utility co doesn't like it but its cheap insurance.
                    Unfortunately that's the way houses are built here. concrete slab on dirt. Water enters through the side, goes up and into the attic laying on the rafters where drops go down inner and outer walls. No pipes buried below the slab. A layer of insulation is laid (batts) or blown over the rafters burying the pipes. But attics here have vents and soffets so cold air can blow quite freely through your attic. Its mostly to help the attic cool in the summer months.

                    Comment


                    • LCHIEN
                      LCHIEN commented
                      Editing a comment
                      thanks for copying my post without attribution.

                  • #13
                    Our water heater takes less than half an hour to heat up to the 140 set temp and turn off.

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                    • #14
                      I'm helping in the re-building of a small country church (building) that is. I have strongly recommended getting a tankless unit and it looks like they are going in that direction. I also strongly recommended the ductless split unit AC/heaters.

                      In a previous church build 6 years ago, I strongly recommended tankless-instant on hot water but the people were too much rooted in the traditional hot water tank. So they got the electric hot water heater. Stays hot and they only use it 2 or 3 days a week for half a day each. Lots of wasted energy there. They did go with my recommendation for the AC/heater ductless split units and absolutely love those units. Their AC and Heat are half the monthly utility cost that they thought they would have, and they can localize the temp to the area needed when needed.

                      I have a 30 year old 50 gallon tank on one end of the house that is beginning to make some rumbling noises. When it goes out, I am gong tankless. We have a 50 gallon on the other end also. both are in the attic.

                      Tankless is the way to go and if one leaves for an extended time, cutting the water off and opening a faucet or two should do well for times of freezes. We did have one tankless unit to freeze and burst when we were in Japan. The house we were to move into in '92 was inspected and we were given a month later date to move in. They left the water on, there was a deep freeze and it burst before we could move in. The problem was that installer had left the pipes to that tankless unit uninsulated and the house heat/cool was not on. Our business manger didn't want to deal with the builder and sent me the bill. I sent it back saying that the bursting occurred before we moved in! and the pipes were not insulated either - with would probably have not made any difference with the heat off. Other than that, in 4 houses in 21 years total we had no problems with tankless units. (We had a normal tank in our first 5 years over there.)

                      Our houses in Japan over 21 of our 26 years had tankless instant-on small units at each bathroom and at the kitchen. Americans don't think that way and waste a lot of water for the hot water to get to the destination. We also had split AC/heat units our last 20 years there and loved that localized heating and cooling as needed. Very efficient.
                      Last edited by leehljp; 08-13-2019, 08:27 PM.
                      Hank Lee

                      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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                      • #15
                        It's a big YES for me.

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