Vacation water shutoff?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by RochNY, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. RochNY

    RochNY New Member

    Messages:
    28
    I plan on taking a trip out of frigid (and snowy) upstate N.Y. for about 10 days and plan on lowering down the heat to about 62 ish. I have a concern about some of my pipes possibly freezing (I haven't been through a full winter in this house yet so I'm not sure if the potential is there). Should I turn of the main house shutoff as a precaution? Thanks for any responses!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,319
    Location:
    New England
    You might want to open the cabinet doors in front of the kitchen sink, and any other ones that might be on an outside wall. 62 should be still warm enough to prevent things from freezing unless you have some gaps and openings that will let in outside air. Shutting off the supply may not make much difference since that valve is probably near an exterior wall - if it freezes, it won't make a difference; but, it can't hurt unless you have a boiler with a autofill valve. You might want to turn the WH off, too, just in case it springs a leak, and tries to run with an empty tank.
  3. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    It makes a difference. Do you have a basement? and what kind of heat do you have?
  4. molo

    molo Member

    Messages:
    855
    Location:
    cold new york
    I have heard that it is best to keep homes at 45 degrees min. to prevent sheetrock from cracking. But if that weren't a concern and you wanted to leave a northern home and leave the heat off how would you prepare (winterize) the home. Is anitifreeze in the toilet and traps enough? If so, do you blow the traps out first or simply pour some antifreeze in?

    Molo
  5. RochNY

    RochNY New Member

    Messages:
    28
    I have a gas furnace (high eff) and a basement and plan to keep the house at about 60-62 ish. I normally keep the temp at 68.
  6. brownizs

    brownizs In the Trades

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Springfield, IL
    The following should be turned off or down when going away for extended periods: Turn off water to Washer (both hot & cold); turn down temp on Water heater to Vacation mode, or lowest setting; turn down heat to lowest setting if unoccupied (can be as low as 60 to 65 (debatable); turn off water, due to who wants a swimming pool in their house. The best thing to do, is may be have someone keep an eye on the house just in case something does happen, you can be contacted. Also, shutting down electronics by unplugging if you do not have a surge protector on them.

    Depending on how old the Washer hoses are, you may want to replace them, if you cannot remember.
  7. RochNY

    RochNY New Member

    Messages:
    28
    I have a ball valve shutoff just after the main shutoff. If I shut this one off (which will turn off the whole house) do I need to open any faucets or leave it as is?
  8. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,396
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Turning off the water will do no good unless you totally drain everything. If you leave the house heat at 60 or so, you should be fine. As others have suggested, turn the water heater to vacation mode. If there is a way to direct some heat into the basement, I would do so, but it really shouldn't be necessary. Normal or even somewhat below normal house temperature will prevent pipes freezing except any that are in an outside wall with poor insulation or in a crawl space that is blocked from heat. Those areas will always freeze anytime the temperature gets below freezing even with the thermostat turned to normal or above.
  9. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    I've done the vacation home winterizing plenty of times. In the drains we use either antifreeze or windshield de-icer in all drains, toilet tank then flush it, put in washing machine then turn on to pump it out after shutting off water to washing machine. Disconnect washing machine hoses and drain water from everything except the HW heater. I don't blow out the pipes but use a bowl with de-icer held to the spigots to vaccum the de-icer into the pipes and valves. It has worked very well so far and takes less than an hour on most houses. Good luck & enjoy.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,319
    Location:
    New England
    For 10-days, I'd do as I said...open the cabinet doors so air can circulate to the sink's pipes unless all of it is on an interior wall. The washing machine's supply should be turned off in a normal operating procedure. If not, turn off the valves and make it a habit. Unless you have a boiler, shutting the water off isn't a bad idea. Turning down the WH will save a little bit of energy. All of the antifreeze and pipe draining is only useful if you are going to turn the heat off. This isn't normally a good idea - think of all of the stuff in the house that could freeze just sitting in the pantry or even the frig! Broken glass and leaks everywhere.

    The safest thing is to have a trusted friend or neighbor check on the house periodically.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2007
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