3 Reasons to Turn off Your Water Before a Long Vacation

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated July 29, 2022
A woman washing her hands in kitchen sink
Photo: interstid / Adobe Stock


  • Always shut your water off before a trip, even if it’s just overnight.

  • A burst pipe or leak can lead to costly water damage within 24 hours.

  • Learn where the shut-off valve is and how to turn it off before leaving.

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While you’re away, temperature fluctuations may cause a pipe to burst, or an unknown leak may become more intense. Stepping into a pool of flooded water at the front door is the last thing you want when arriving home after a relaxing vacation. Whether you’re heading out for an overnight trip or an extended backpacking tour, you should turn off your water when you go on vacation.

Why You Should Turn Off Water to the House Before a Vacation

You’ve double-checked that the stove is off and you’ve unplugged all your devices. But before you head out for vacation, here’s why you should also take a moment to shut off the water to your house.

1. Avoid Massive Water Damage

A flood is just as likely to happen while you’re away as it is while you’re home, but when you’re at home, you can quickly shut off the water before it ruins your carpets or hardwood floors. If you don’t shut off your water before a vacation and something begins to leak or a pipe bursts, that water may spill out the entire time you’re gone, causing extensive water damage around the house.

2. Avoid Hefty Repair Costs 

Water damage repairs typically cost $1,210 to $5,170, depending on the extent of the damage, while mold removal costs about $2,200. Flooded floors and subfloors will need replacing since dangerous mold can begin growing in flooded areas within just 24 hours. If the walls become damp from water damage, you’ll need to replace the drywall completely. 

You may need to hire a plumber in your area to fix or replace faucets, tub fixtures, or pipes after a leak. Any mold that developed while you were away can cost an average of $2,200 to remove, and you’ll need to hire a local mold inspector to ensure that all mold is identified and taken care of to keep your family safe.

3. Avoid Inconvenience of Repairs

No one wants to come home from a much-needed vacation to a bunch of repairs that leave you feeling ready for another vacation. In addition to being costly, you may need to stay with family or at a hotel during the water damage repairs, or portions of your home may be hard to access for several days or weeks. You can save time, money, and effort by simply shutting off your main water valve before heading off on your trip.

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.

Check your property inspection report if you can’t find the cut-off valve. You most likely had a property inspection when you bought the 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 to look for the shut-off valve and how to operate it. 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 send a technician to shut it off.

How Do I Turn Off My Home’s Water?

Hand of a man closing a water valve
Photo: The Toidi / Adobe Stock

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 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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