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 Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: onvacation (GA)

I am departing on a 3-week vacation. My nightmare has always been hot water heater blowing or line bursting and my house flooding endlessly. I thought of turning off the main water line into the home, and turn hot water heater to 'vacation' mode. Should I do both of these, or just the latter ? ( no fear of freeze btw ) Guidance appreciated . pacman16@bellsouth.net

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: jimmy-o (CA)

Millions of people go away every day without worry about their water. After all , a blowout is just as likely to happen while you are at home, or out for an hour grocery shopping.

The damage that is done if it DOES happen is beyond comprehension. What do I do? If going away overnight, I turn off the water main and turn down the temp. on the water heater.

Paranoid? Maybe. Peace of mind....priceless!

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: hj (AZ)

Here, the problem with doing it is that if you have a swimming pool, or landscaping irrigation, turning off the water to the house could also turn off the water to them, if the piping was not done correctly. Otherwise, it is a good idea. Many people have come home, only to discover a pipe broke just after they left on their vacation.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: jblanche (WI)

I turn it off. In addition to what hj said, remember that if your water softener cycles while the water is off, your pipes may end up full of brine. So I unplug the softener and have to reset it when I get back. And turn off the icemaker and humidifier.

If you don't turn the water heater to pilot, and possibly if you do, it may increase the pressure in the system and cause the relief valve to open. That's if you don't have an expansion tank. I set it to pilot and have never had a problem.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: onvacation (GA)

great replies.

I have no softener, no pool, no sprinkler system to worry about.

I'll turn main line off, turn icemaker in freezer off - do i put hot water heater to Pilot or Vacation ? ( and does Pilot leave the pilot on or turn off )

It is peace of mind - 3 weeks is long time, my hot water heater is borderline on years.

THanks again.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: hj (AZ)

Pilot is the better option, although vacation will allow the water to get hotter sooner when you turn the heater back on.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: hj (AZ)

The softener operates by water pressure and flow, so it the water is off, the softener cannot aspirate the brine from the resevoir, and thus there will not be any brine in the system. So, that is not a consideration. And if it is a "demand metered" unit, there would not be any flow to trigger the regeneration in the first place.



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: SMSPlumbing (PA)

I would recommend turning the water off. You will not have to worry about the ice maker line, since the whole house is off. Turn your water heater to pilot. This only lets the gas go to the pilot. Vacation mode is the lowest temp besides off that the water heater will go, hence like hj said it will heat up faster when you get home. On average it will probably only take about an hour to heat a 50 from your cold water temp to the desired temp.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: Rick Laser (CA)

One time I was going on vacation so I turned off the water heater and shut off the main water valve to the house. Unfortunately, when I turned the water heater back on it started to leak. I guess the change in temperature from room temperature to hot water temperature caused a crack or something. My wife occasionally still mentions how I messed up back then and it was 20 years ago! :-(

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: jblanche (WI)

"The softener operates by water pressure and flow, so it the water is off, the softener cannot aspirate the brine from the resevoir, and thus there will not be any brine in the system. So, that is not a consideration. And if it is a "demand metered" unit, there would not be any flow to trigger the regeneration in the first place."

Yes, I have a metered system, but if there hasn't been enough metered flow, it cycles on its own every two weeks anyway. And there is still a bit of head pressure from the filled pipes overhead in the basement on the hard side, and on the 1st and 2nd floors on the softened side.

Years ago after adding the softener, I came home from vacation and found the brine tank with no water, the soft water pipes had no water in them, and when I did turn the water back on I had to flush the green salty stuff from the pipes. I got the softener around the same time as the icemaker, but I don't remember if I left both on.

Come to think of it, this was when we had the old toilet with a very slow leak in the fill valve. So that might have helped it to drain down the upper floors.

I really don't know exactly how or why it happened. I'd have to take a look at the valve open/close sequence in the cycle and think about it a bit. But it did happen, and it's never happened again since I started unplugging the control when I shut off the water.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: CanuckWolf (Non-US)

this is my opinion...if your water heater is questionable("on in years";) you had better get it replaced...peice of mind...you go to work 8 hours a day or so?if you have to worry about your water heater like this is it not better to replace it sooner rather than later?(or too late?)

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: PBwrencher (WI)

I always shut my water off when I go for a a few days especially in the summer. What convinced me years ago was when I was called to a home where the neighborhood kids were playing on a hot summer day and needed a quick convenient cold drink of water after playing ball on a hot summer afternoon.

Well all there kids got there cold drink of water but; the last kid forgot to turn the outside faucet off and it created alot of damage both outside and inside from all this water coming in after running for days. Now if the homeowner came home that day and the same things goes for small leaks anyplace such as a water heater or an automatic washer hose, damage can be limited and controlled and that is a good thing.:think2:



Edited 3 times.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: hj (AZ)

It was more likely condensation of the flue gases caused by the cold water in the tank. It ALWAYS happens with heaters when they are first turned on, although you cannot always tell it is happening. But if it were actually a leak, then it was going to happen REGARDLESS of whether you had turned the heater off or not.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: hj (AZ)

There is NO "head pressure" once enough water drains from the pipes to create a "suction" in the upper levels. And that takes an insignificant amount of water. Even if the faucets were open so all the water could drain, there would not even be enough volume to perform the initial backwash. Therefore there would not be ANY water available to do the brine sequence. I am not sure WHAT your softener did, but it did NOT regenerate with the water off.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line
Author: hj (AZ)

quote; the last kid forgot to turn the faucet off and it created alot of damage both outside and inside from all this water coming in after running for days.

You cannot predict "stupid", so if you are letting people inside your house and they do not know how to turn a faucet off, you had better install a solenoid valve so you can turn the water off every time you leave. Years ago, my former employer and my dad were working on the water line for a hotel in Chicago. They turned the water off to make the repair and then turned it back on. About 2:00 a.m., water started flowing down the stairway into the lobby. Some kids on the tenth floor had tried to get some water, and when they found there was none, they put the plug in the sink and left the faucet open so they could catch any drips that came out. Then the family checked out.



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line
Author: PBwrencher (WI)

Outside faucet, sillcock, hose bibb..you know that water tap/spicket attached to the box sill above the sill plate after the siding goes on was what they left running.:think::)

And, yes we have basements and many people finish them off, You should have seen that sinkhole next to the house that running water caused.:)



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line
Author: hj (AZ)

Still hard to protect against stupidity. You said damage "inside" so the assumption was it was an indoors faucet.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: dcplumber (CA)

I normally turn off the washing machine valves/stops and my toilet and ice machine supplies....the rest I leave on. Supply lines tend to leak or blow out more often than a copper line developing a leak.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: SMSPlumbing (PA)

But DC, who is there when the copper lines do spring a leak to shut it off. Even a pinhole can cause a lot of damage if you let it go for a couple days or week.

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 Re: Vacation ? - do I turn main water line off
Author: dcplumber (CA)

"But DC, who is there when the copper lines do spring a leak to shut it off. Even a pinhole can cause a lot of damage if you let it go for a couple days or week".

Who is guarding your copper pipes when you are at work or asleep? It is rare that a pipe which is under pressure, waits until you are on vacation or away at work to start leaking for no apparent reason. The vast majority of flooded houses are from toilet and lav supplies, washer machine hoses, dishwasher supply lines, plugged toilets, ice makers, vibrations, etc....I've known a lot of people who decided to shut off their "gate" valves upon leaving and then calling old DC to replace it with a ball valve when they return home from their trip.

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