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Turning off water main for trip?
Old 04-19-2010, 10:31 PM   #1
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Turning off water main for trip?

Quick question - anyone know of any reason why I shouldn't turn off the water main on my house before leaving for an extended trip? I don't live where it gets below freezing, so I can't think of any downside to doing this...although I guess one thing I was thinking was that it might somehow interfere with the water heater?

I'm trying to minimize the damage from something sprouting a major leak or cracking while my family is on the road. Hopefully some of you have done this or thought of doing this in the past and can advise on whether this is a good idea or not?

Thanks!
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:55 PM   #2
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Do shut the water heater breaker off if you shut off the water - it shouldn't boil off enough steam to expose the upper element, but it's much easier to shut off a breaker than to replace an element.
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:28 AM   #3
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Do shut the water heater breaker off if you shut off the water - it shouldn't boil off enough steam to expose the upper element, but it's much easier to shut off a breaker than to replace an element.
How about a gas hot water heater? Maybe just turn the temp down?
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Old 04-20-2010, 02:22 AM   #4
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How about a gas hot water heater? Maybe just turn the temp down?
How about setting it to "Pilot"?
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:51 AM   #5
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I shut off the water in my condo and turn the gas water heater setting to "vacation"

At the house, I turn off the water, unplug the water softener and water filter, but haven't shut off the breaker to the water heater. I'll have to remember this next time.
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:32 AM   #6
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We traveled often back in our S&B days. Always shut off water, and turned off breakers to unused circuits.

We had a water bed years ago. One trip, I turned off the breaker for the plug circuit the heater was connected to. It took nearly a week to warm it back up. Had to sleep on the couch, the waterbed would suck the heat out of your body. Chilled to the bone.......
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:11 AM   #7
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If you decide not to, make sure you turn off the water at the washer and any other area that has hoses.
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:17 AM   #8
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Always turn off the water when we go away and turn the hot water heater down
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:39 AM   #9
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I shut off my water when I'm away, as some really bad things can happen when water runs for days. I always get air in the system and it hisses and blows out some nasty looking stuff from the faucets, but that all goes away quickly. The only downside for me is that I have temperature activated sprinklers in the basement laundry and furnace rooms, so I give up that protection.
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:15 AM   #10
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I also turn off the water and flip the breaker on the water heater when away from home for a few days -- simple thing to do and prevents worry about possible leaks/water damage.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:12 AM   #11
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What do you consider extended

I have had a water leak in the middle of a pipe... very very small hole allowed a small stream of water to come out...

It can happen any time... even when you are living there... sure, turning off will prevent a major problem with flooding the whole house, so I do it..

But my time frame is more than a vacation... I would have to be moving somewhere for some time before I did all this..
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:36 PM   #12
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... I always get air in the system and it hisses and blows out some nasty looking stuff from the faucets, but that all goes away quickly. ...
Suggestion if you get sediment (i.e., nasty looking stuff) in your pipes: Before you turn on the water at the meter, remove the strainer from the faucet the furthest away from the meter/water heater and turn on that faucet only. It will help push the sediment out that faucet. After the air gets out of the system, shut off that faucet, then remove the strainers from other faucets in the house and run water through them as well.

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Old 04-20-2010, 04:47 PM   #13
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Suggestion if you get sediment (i.e., nasty looking stuff) in your pipes: Before you turn on the water at the meter, remove the strainer from the faucet the furthest away from the meter/water heater and turn on that faucet only. It will help push the sediment out that faucet. After the air gets out of the system, shut off that faucet, then remove the strainers from other faucets in the house and run water through them as well.

Achiever (the plumber's daughter)
Good advice. I learned this the hard way. Some of those aerators are a pain to clean!
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:43 AM   #14
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Thanks all - looks like turning off the water (and the water heater) is the way to go for longer trips (in my case these trips are between 2 weeks and 2 months).
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:05 PM   #15
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I don't turn off the water, but I do turn down the water heater the lowest setting.
I have heard that if you turn off the water, some of the washers on some faucet and other connections could dry out. When you turn the water back on, you may experience leaks.
So I just leave the water on.
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:23 PM   #16
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I once turned off the water at the main valve for a week-long absence.

When I came back, while taking a shower and washing my hair, I observed that the water was salty. Gosh, it was a vacation at the seashore, but I coudn't believe that I would carry that much salt back in my hair.

It took me a few seconds to realize that I had not unplugged the water softener, which could not rinse out the brine during its regeneration cycle.

It took a few days of normal water useage to flush all that salt out of the house plumbing and the water heater.

I would now make sure that the water softener gets turned off along with the water heater.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:49 AM   #17
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I would now make sure that the water softener gets turned off along with the water heater.
And bypassed. It is possible for the drop in pressure to suck the brine out of the tank, or otherwise get stuff where it shouldn't be.

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Old 04-25-2010, 07:38 AM   #18
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I have a friend who's washing machine hose sprung a leak, they had to replace all the hardwood floors. Apparently this is fairly common, ditto for the hose going to the ice maker.
Those hoses are not up to the same standard as your home piping.
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:51 AM   #19
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I have a friend who's washing machine hose sprung a leak, they had to replace all the hardwood floors. Apparently this is fairly common, ditto for the hose going to the ice maker.
Those hoses are not up to the same standard as your home piping.
TJ
Right a very common problem. They can be replaced cheaply with hoses that have wire reinforcement - available at the big box stores. The standard rubber hoses degrade with time enough to burst.
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Old 05-22-2010, 09:09 AM   #20
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I don't turn off the water, but I do turn down the water heater the lowest setting.
I have heard that if you turn off the water, some of the washers on some faucet and other connections could dry out. When you turn the water back on, you may experience leaks.
So I just leave the water on.
My brother and his wife left for a one week vacation without turning the water off. On day three they received a call from the neighbor saying water was flowing out from under the front door. Returned home quickly to find a pipe had ruptured and the hardwood floors ruined. The finished lower level was an absolute disaster and this was a two year old custom built home.

I never leave for any trip anymore without turning off the water.
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