Do You Need to Turn Off Your Water Before Going on Vacation?
At Beck Electric, Generators & Plumbing, one of the more frequent questions we get asked is whether it is necessary to shut off the water to your home before going on vacation. The answer is that shutting off your water isn’t strictly necessary, but it is still a good idea unless you have someone who will be checking on your home every day while you’re away. If you don’t shut the water off, there is always a chance that your plumbing could leak and possibly flood your home while you’re away. This risk is obviously bigger during the winter since there is a chance that your heating system may fail and cause your pipes to freeze.
Another major worry is that your water heater could develop a serious leak, which can cause hundreds of gallons of water to come flooding out in just a few hours. If the leak continues for days, you’re likely looking at thousands of gallons and a repair bill in the tens of thousands to fix all of the water damage. By shutting off your water supply, you will ensure that no new water will enter the tank should the water heater start leaking. To prevent the risk of leaks and water damage, here is an overview of how to shut off your water and also what additional steps you may want to take to protect your plumbing before leaving on a winter vacation.
How to Shut Off Your Home’s Water Supply
Shutting off your home’s water supply is a simple task that only takes a few seconds. All you need to do is locate your home’s main water shut-off valve and turn the handle until the valve is fully closed. The shut-off valve should be located wherever the municipal water supply enters your home, which is usually in the basement or crawl space.
If your home is relatively new or your plumbing has been upgraded within the past 20 years or so, the shut-off is most likely a gate valve. This type of valve has a straight handle. When open, the handle is directly in line with the pipe. To close the valve, gently turn the handle so that it is at a full 90-degree angle to the water line.
Older plumbing systems most commonly use a ball valve instead, and this type of valve has a round handle that usually looks just like the handle on most outdoor hose bibs. To close a ball valve, simply turn the handle counter-clockwise as far as it can go.
Once you have closed the shut-off valve, it is always a good idea to open all of your faucets, showers, and other plumbing fixtures. This serves two different purposes. The first is that it will drain most of the water out of all of your pipes to eliminate the risk of leaks and water damage. The second purpose is so that you can make sure that your water supply is fully shut off. It should only take a few seconds for most of the water to drain out of the lines. If the water continues running out of the fixtures for a longer time, it indicates that you didn’t fully close the valve.
Preventing Your Pipes From Freezing During a Winter Vacation
If you plan on taking an extended vacation over the winter and don’t have anyone who will be checking on your home, we always recommend hiring a plumber to fully winterize your plumbing system. This will fully eliminate the risk of your pipes potentially freezing and bursting while you’re away.
Winterizing a plumbing system involves shutting off the water supply and draining all of the pipes and plumbing fixtures. After the pipes have been drained, they are then blown out using an air compressor to remove any remaining water from the lines. The water heater is also turned off and completely drained, and the toilets need to be fully drained as well.
Oftentimes there will always be a small amount of water stuck inside the toilet bowl and/or tank. In this case, antifreeze is added to the water in the toilet to ensure it can’t freeze and cause the porcelain to crack. Antifreeze may also be added to all of the drains in the home as this will prevent the water inside the P-traps from freezing and potentially cracking the drain pipes.
Canton’s Plumbing and Electrical Experts
At Beck Electric, Generators & Plumbing, we specialize in a full range of residential and commercial plumbing and electrical services. Our plumbers install, repair, and maintain water heaters, boilers, dishwashers, garbage disposals, sump pumps, sinks, showers, faucets, and toilets. They can also help with drain cleaning and water and gas piping. Our team of licensed electricians service and install residential and commercial standby generators, EV charging stations, and a range of other electrical appliances and fixtures. Give us a call today if you have any questions or need to schedule a service call.