3 Reasons to Turn off Your Water Before a Long Vacation

Lisa Gauthier Mitchison
Updated July 28, 2021
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Even if you’re just leaving for a weekend getaway, it’s a good idea to shut off the water to your home

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When you’re getting ready to go on vacation, the last thing on your mind is a leak or flood happening while you’re gone. But the reality is that drips and leaks can happen at any time of the year, not just winter. Luckily, this problem is easily avoided by turning off the water at the main valve before you head off for an amazing trip.

3 Reasons You Should Shut off Water When Going out of Town

Is it necessary to turn off your home’s water before going on a long vacation? The short answer is yes. Whether you’re going to your winter home for a few months or spending a few days exploring a new city, it’s always smart to turn your water off before you leave. 

Here’s a look at three of the most compelling reasons you should shut off your water before a trip.

1. Broken Lines

While you’re away, water remains in the pipes at full pressure. If a pipe or hose breaks or bursts, water will continue to flow from it until the main is turned off, potentially flooding your home.

2. Broken Sprinklers

While a flooded lawn isn’t as stressful as a flooded house, the damage is still inconvenient and messy to come home to after a long vacation.

3. High Water Bill

On top of replacements and repairs that will need to be done if any water damage occurs while you’re gone, you could also come home to a larger-than-average water bill.

Where Is My Main Water Shut-Off Valve?

The main water shut-off valve location depends on your home’s style of construction (basement, crawlspace, or concrete slab) and if you use city water or well water. 

If you use city water, examine the perimeter of the house on the side that faces the street, where the main begins. If you use well water, locate the well and imagine a line running to your house and check there.

If you can’t find the cut-off valve, check your property inspection report. These are usually done before you buy your home. The plumbing section of the report should note where the shut-off valve is, and it might have a photo of the valve.

If you’re still having trouble, a plumber can show you where this is located and how it operates. If it’s an emergency, you can also look for the curb valve, which is located outside at the beginning of your water main on the edge of your property. 

There should be a ground-level metal or plastic utility box. Call the water company's emergency line, and someone will walk you through shutting off the valve or will send a technician to take care of it for you.

How Do I Turn off My Home’s Water?

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Now that you have located the valve, make sure it’s working. Do a test run before leaving.

There are two kinds of interior valves: ball and gate.

  • A ball valve has a straight handle that is parallel to the pipe. To turn it off, move the handle from a parallel position to a perpendicular one as far as it will let you. 

  • A gate valve has a round handle. Turn it clockwise as far as possible to shut it off.

It’s also a good idea to shut off the water heater while you’re away on a long vacation. If you’re traveling during the winter, drain the water lines after the water is shut off to the house in case the furnace fails. You can drain the water lines by opening a faucet on the main floor or in the basement after you have shut off the main water valve.

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