While in this process, most people overlook a crucial process: turning off the water.
Turning off the water supply to your home before leaving for a vacation may seem like any other ordinary task. However, it holds tremendous significance for your home’s environment and safety.
This post will examine the question, “should I turn off the water when on vacation,” and provide professional advice on what should be done.
You don’t want to come back to a leaking home, burst pipes, and in cases of flooding in the house, damaged furniture, compromised structural integrity, etc.
Therefore, we will explore why turning off the water during your vacation is essential, some potential consequences of disregarding this precaution, and provide practical guidance to ensure your plumbing is correct before traveling.
Why Is It Important to Turn off the Water?
Anyone who has ever returned to a flooded home knows how messy things can be.
The experience is awful, and you’ll never enjoy any other future vacations unless you’re sure you turned off the water supply.
So why is it a bad idea to leave the water outlets of your home open while you’re away on vacation? Here is why.
1. Potentially Massive Damage
Water and fire are undoubtedly the biggest causes of massive damage in a home.
Causes of water damage can be faulty supply lines, frozen pipes, leaking water heaters, and many more.
Water damages likely to welcome you back include water-soaked furniture, damaged flooring and carpets, damaged personal belongings, mold growth, and compromised structural integrity.
To avoid or significantly reduce the likelihood of water damage from running water in your home when you’re away, ensure the water supply is turned off before leaving.
2. Potentially Massive Costs
When it comes to serious water damage, insurance can only cover much. So, when you’ve dried and cleaned everything and replaced whatever needs a replacement, your pockets will be significantly depleted. Not forgetting the costs of rewiring the electrics, which is likely.
Now, we said insurers don’t cover much. That’s because if the damage is severe, most will go into a “cost minimization” mode. Some even have policies restricting them from covering water damages resulting from not turning off the water supply when you’re away from home for more than a specific amount of time.
Remember to check all the details of your insurance policy. All in all, fully recovering from such damage is costly.
3. The Potential Massive Stress and Inconvenience
With the damages to your property, your lifestyle will be inconvenient in one way or another. In some cases extreme cases (which are quite often), you’ll have to rent accommodation elsewhere while your house is being repaired.
Not just physical stress but emotional stress. Imagine experiencing prized possessions and memories destroyed by water. I wouldn’t wish for any family.
So, when going for a vacation and you’re hesitant about turning off the water, just do it and turn it off. It will save you lots of cash, stress, inconvenience, and time.
Ways to Get Your Plumbing Ready Before Going for a Vacation
Whenever you know you’re leaving your home unattended because you’ll be away for a long vacation, ensure you prepare the plumbing system before going. Plumbing accidents can occur anytime, and if you’re not home, they can be catastrophic.
Here are a few ways to prepare your plumbing before leaving for a vacation.
1. Turn Off the Water Supply
If everyone is going on vacation and you’re sure no one will be home for weeks, turn off the water supply. Start with the main water valve, then proceed to individual valves within the washing machine, bath and restrooms, and dishwasher.
2. Turn Your Water Heater Down
Since no one will be around to use the water heater, it’s best if you turn it down. This way, you save energy and keep the energy bills low while away.
3. Check Your Sprinkler System
If your homestead has an automatic sprinkler system, consider turning the timer off when you won’t be home. You don’t want to risk coming home to a system with issues.
To those worried about the grass drying, a good neighbor can always come in handy and ensure your sprinkler system is in good condition. But check with them first and ensure they are okay with the little task.
4. Check For Leaks
Leaks are always a moment away from a disaster, whether you’re at home or not. So, before leaving, check for any of them in your plumbing system, including indoor faucets, outdoor faucets, loose valves, cracked hoses, and anywhere there’s a water source.
5. Schedule A Plumbing Inspection
A proper plumbing inspection of your system before leaving for a long time is the ultimate way of preparing your plumbing system. A professional will thoroughly check and not miss any sign of a damaged water system.
This way, you’ll have the much-needed peace of mind during your vacation, knowing everything back home is okay, including your plumbing system.
6. Have A Friend Check-In
What about leaks that occur when you’ve already left? That’s where a friend who can periodically check in comes in.
Having someone come around to ensure everything is okay will help catch potential leaks and other problems in your plumbing system early on.
Leave them your plumber’s contacts so they can quickly get help if any issues arise.
Other Essential Steps to Prevent Water Damage
The main water supply valve is not the only one you’ll need to turn off. Equipment connected to your plumbing system, like the dishwasher, washing machine, and others, also needs their water supply turned off. With these types of equipment, the intersection points connecting them to the water supply are prone to faults which can be disastrous if you’re not around.
There’s also the risk of a water hammer if you don’t turn off the water fixtures and valves. A water hammer refers to a momentary surge in pressure inside the plumbing system. Systems that are prone to water hammers are the hot water systems.
Visual inspection of the water equipment and fixtures is essential before leaving for a vacation. Check for developing leakages that are likely to rupture when you’re gone and cause flooding, equipment malfunctions, and mold growth.
What we are trying to communicate is that you ought to be on the lookout for plumbing problems and quickly address them early on before they become costly.
Professional plumbers advise scheduling an inspection at least every two years.
Should I Turn Off My Water When on Vacation in Winter?
Of course, Yes! You should turn off your water when on vacation in winter.
Winter is one of the most critical times to be vigilant with your water systems and take necessary precautions. Even though plumbing problems can occur during any weather season, they can get messy during winter.
Dropping temperatures can wreak havoc on your pipes. The water can freeze up, and bust open the lines, especially if there are cracks and other weak points.
Instead of pipe busting, leakages during other times of the year tend to widen and multiply, causing flooding.
Pressure must always be in the pipes for water to run in your home. It only takes the shortest time possible for small problems to escalate into disasters. Therefore, only leave the house after checking for these problems.
How to Turn off the Water to the House
Turning off the water to your house isn’t much of a challenge. The only most difficult part of this practice is remembering to do it. Most people have suffered water damage while on vacation because of forgetting to turn off the water supply.
Here’s how you turn off your water supply to the house.
The first step is to locate the main water supply valve. Knowing where the location of this valve is essential, especially during plumbing emergencies.
Most valves are wheel controlled or have some type of lever handle. You can turn the valve off safely by closing the lever or turning the wheel clockwise.
The main water supply valves are located in the following areas:
- The basement
- Outside the home
- In the crawl space
- At the concrete slab
If you’re unsure where your valve is, call a professional plumber to help you find it without making a mess.
After locating the main valve, test turning it off to ensure the water stops flowing into the house. You don’t want to wait until it’s time to leave so that you realize the valve isn’t functioning as expected.
Turning the correct main water supply valve to the house before leaving gives you peace of mind while on vacation since you’ll be sure that only the tiny amount of water already in the lines will run out in case of leaks.
Should You Turn off the Water Heater?
Yes, you should turn off the water heater while going on vacation.
Most water heating systems maintain their water temperatures between 50 to 60 degrees. The presence of heat in a system with problems like leaks can increase the pressure of the water, escalating the issue into a flood.
If your water heater is electric, it’s recommended that you turn off the hot and cold water supply. After returning home, remember to open the main water supply and the supply to the water heater before turning it on.
If your water heater is gas-powered, find if it has a vacation mode and turn it on, especially if your vacation is a short one. Gas systems take longer than electric systems to turn on when completely turned off, about an hour of waiting. So, it’s best if you use the vacation mode.
Different systems have different mechanisms. Consult the user manual or contact the manufacturer to determine how to operate it.
Conclusion — Make Sure You Turn off the Water When on Vacation.
Turning off the water supply to and in your house should be the standard practice when going on vacation.
Neglecting this simple but essential precaution is a recipe for water disaster in your house while you’re away. You risk damage to furniture, personal property, carpets, and floor. You also risk compromising your house’s structural integrity.
If you’re going away over winter, don’t turn your heating off completely, as this can increase the risk of your pipes bursting. Instead, leave your heating on a low setting, or set it to come on at regular intervals.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s in winter or summer, water damage can be costly to repair if you do not prepare your plumbing system for your absence.
Water heaters should also be regulated and their heat lowered but not turned off completely. We don’t want freezing water lines that can burst and create a mess.