vacant house, water off or on

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by edwardh1, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. edwardh1

    edwardh1 Member

    Messages:
    110
    Location:
    South Carolina
    family disagreement.
    situation: mom is sick in hospital, house vacant. may be vacant for a month or two , 1958 house 1 story, plaster walls hardwood floors.copper pipe from 1958. water heater in garage.warm climate. sometime people in house only once every 4 or 5 days.

    I want to cut the water off to prevent leaks. . another family member says : well the water has been on since 1958, if you cut it off the pressure cycling will probably cause a problem when you turn it back on (tho the water company changed out the meter last year to a remote read meter seems they had to cut the water off to do that and then repressurize the house pipes)

    water on or off? my fear is water damage from a leak
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,268
    Location:
    New England
    It doesn't hurt to turn the water off, but you should also turn the WH off as well, or at least put it in pilot mode (if gas). The reason on the WH is, if it did leak or there were something that caused it to drain some, and then tried to reheat the water, having the heating elements or heat exchanger exposed to air would damage the thing.

    For safety, consider running the WH up to a higher temp, and running at least some through it to kill off anything that might have grown in the interim.

    That being said, I don't usually turn the water off while away, especially in the winter since I need to keep the heat on to keep from things freezing, and while the boiler shouldn't leak, I'd rather have the house warm enough to not freeze!
  3. edwardh1

    edwardh1 Member

    Messages:
    110
    Location:
    South Carolina
    no freezing where I live, thank goodness but we do have Mr Humidity and mr mosquito at times. but yes I had planned on the electric water heater to turn it off.
    any thoughts on my family members stressing the pipes by turning it back on after it being off?
  4. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,451
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    That should not be a problem.

    When you go to turn it back on, You can open a cold water outlet, then turn the water on slow, to work the air out.

    Remember to let the air out of the water heater tank, by opening a Hot water outlet, before you turn power on to your water heater.

    After the air is out you can open the shut off valve completely.

    Your Water Heater may be in shock, a spare element may be good to have on hand.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,054
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    We turn the water on and off MANY times, sometimes over a short period of time. No problems with that.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,268
    Location:
    New England
    What you may find, especially if you partially drain the system after shutting it off, is that you get some crud dislodged and your water looks funky for a bit. That funk can clog things, too. It's sort of like what happens when the water company opens up the fire hydrants to flush the lines out - it really does dislodge some crud from the insides of the pipes. But, if you just shut the water off, and there are no leaks, you shouldn't really be getting any air in the system, so that wont' happen. You do want to flush it a bit regardless of whether you've turned it off or not. The water can pick up stuff from the pipes when sitting for a longish time. THey call water the universal solvent for a reason (but for the most part, it won't dissolve most things in our lifetime). Doesn't hurt to flush the lines a bit, though, before drinking or cooking with it after sitting.
  7. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida USCG escorting cruise ship leaving Port Everglades

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Lake Worth, Florida
    At 56 year old home and your biggest problem can be the main shut off. It is usually a gate valve and they do break at the stem to the wedge due to corrosion. Unless it's been replaced or you shut the water off before the meter (the "city" side of the meter), constant uses for the next few months may take its toll on the gate.
    http://www.nibco.com/resources/ProductSubmittalDocs/TSI8PV.pdf
  8. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    254
    Location:
    Florida
    Sorry for the long posting but i just wanted to provide food for thought.

    I have 2 homes in Florida that I spend weeks between. Anytime I'm away, whether it's overnight or for weeks on end, we have our procedure.

    Main water shut off outside the house (installed a ball valve on both homes)
    Water heater breaker turned off
    Refrigerator Ice maker turned off
    Air conditioner programmed to 72 degrees for 2 hours, from 6am-8am then from 8am-6am (22 hours) set to 88 deg. This allows the AC to run daily long enough to keep the house dehumidified. Settings are as recommended by local power company.

    I monitor the indoor temp and can control the a/c remotely via wifi thermostat. I have a neighbor at each house that has a key that can enter in an emergency.

    When I return I;
    Adjust the a/c to hold steady temp of my choice remotely via wifi thermostat about 2 hours before arriving so it's nice inside when I get there.
    Turn on main water ball valve
    Enter home and run a hot water faucet to make sure there is no air in the HW tank
    Turn on WH breaker
    Turn in ice maker

    I have the electric hot water heater tank temp set to 140df so that any stuff that can grow in the tank dies. I have a thermostatic mixing valve that limits hot water in the home to 120df to prevent scalding.

    At these settings by electric bill runs about $30/month if gone all month. That includes several lights on timers, internet modem and router on 24/7, refrigerator, alarm system with cellular backup and 4 IP security cameras always active. It also includes a 4 ton AC unit running average of almost 2 hours every day. Last time I was gone from one home for 2 months. The water company replaced my water meter thinking it had failed since usage was zero.

    BTW, I have my router and modem on a timer that power cycles them so they reboot twice a day. That prevents a loss on remote internet access if the modem or router locks up.

    Here's a shot of my wifi theremostat remotely reading temps and AC usage.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014
  9. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida USCG escorting cruise ship leaving Port Everglades

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Lake Worth, Florida
    I have the same situation. A home in Palm Beach County (Lake Worth) and Orange County (Orlando). The Orlando home is vacant most of the time and I do leave the water on, but turn off the water heater off. Both homes have a gate valve but the Orlando home does have a plastic ball valve in line that was set up just before the now removed water softener. The Orlando home hasthe Bright House security system with remote access. However, their thermostat does not have a humidity sensor nor does the Carrier A/C Heat Pump have humidity control. My solution was I added a remote camera from BrightHouse and I place a humidstat meter right in front of the camera. I log in every few days and keep an eye the humidity and if it goes up I''ll just lower the temp. I'll keep it at 79 or 80 degrees and it stays in the 40% range. It's a 2 story so when the first floor is 79 the second floor will be around 83.

    You're not the first one asking whether to turn off the water when the home is vacant. I'll think I'll start doing it.

    1016372565.jpg
  10. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    254
    Location:
    Florida
    I did the same thing with a camera pointed at a temp/humidity thermostat for several years at my weekend home in Manatee County FL. Now I just run the air for 2 hours daily and it only costs me $30/mo for the electric bill.

    The first thing I did in my current west coast house was to have the gate valve removed and install a ball valve. I had a plumber do this because I was busy moving. The plumber installed ball valve cost about $130.

    My snowbird friend in Ft Lauderdale returned to his condo after being gone 6 months. He had a pinhole leak in the water line that went to the ice maker in his refrigerator. His house was mush. $30,000+ dollars in damage not covered by insurance because it was a leak over long period of time. They had to tear out drywall, floors etc because of water damage and mold.

    I had a slab leak at my Fort Lauderdale house. We were home fortunately so damage was not as bad as it could have been.

    I never leave overnight any more with the water left on to the house.

    I have Brighthouse on west coast and Comcast on east coast. A few months ago my Brighthouse modem locked up when we were gone. We lost contact with cameras, no phone, no Security system. The only way to fix it was to remove the backup battery from the cable Modem and power cycle it so I had to drive 220 miles back to the house. Now I leave the backup battery out of the modem (per the tech's suggestion) and have a timer on the modem that shuts down the power to the cable modem 2 times a day to force a reboot. I do the same on the Ft Laud house. Power has to be out for over 5 minutes before alarm sends me network supervisory fault text.
  11. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,451
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    What was your IP address again ? Your router just rebooted, when it was being hacked by one of my students.

    Class is over in 5 minutes.

    lol
  12. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    254
    Location:
    Florida
    62.212.xx.x
    I hope your class enjoys this ;(
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
  13. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,451
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    LOL.

    That is funny.

    I have a new Crack in my ass now...

    Only a network guy would get that joke.


    Thank You for sharing.
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