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Should I turn off the water when going on vacation?

why you should turn off the water when going on vacation

We often get asked if it is advisable to turn off the water when going on vacation and the short answer is: Yes, absolutely! Burst pipes, leaks or other severe plumbing issues often occur when nobody is around who can address the problem immediately. Fire and water are the most dangerous things that can happen to your home. When a pipe bursts, it can destroy your whole home in a matter of minutes. We have seen whole houses being destroyed by a single burst  pipe. 

When going on vacation, people think about everything. They make sure all clothes are packed, that somebody takes care of the plants, a dog walker is hired to take care of the dog or cat, but what people often do not think about is their home or better said: the water supply of their home. When you go on a long trip or even just a weekend trip, during these days or weeks nobody is at home that can take care of events as soon as they happen. It is the ideal time for plumbing problems to take their toll on your home. 

Imagine being on vacation for 3 weeks, you are really happy and can't wait to finally relax and enjoy life. One week in, you are sitting on the beach, just enjoying life and suddenly you get a call that your home was flooded. The vacation and the relaxed feeling you had are gone right away and are replaced by a dreadful feeling, that this is going to cost a lot of money (not thinking about all the beautiful reminders that may have been destroyed).

If you want to make sure that something like this does not happen to you, we always, always advise our clients to turn off the water supply when they go on vacation. It is done very quickly, but can save you so much stress and money in the case of a burst pipe or water leak while you are not at home.

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Why it is important to turn off the water

There are a few reasons why it is important to turn off the water when you go on vacation for a longer period of time or just on a holiday trip. Burst pipes or other big water issues often come along when nobody is around. If you want to enjoy your vacation, turn off the main water supply and be sure that you won't come home to a flooded house.

Still not convinced if it is necessary to turn off the whole water supply? Then read along, we will show you many potential problems that can occur when you don't shut off the water supply when you go on vacation. 

1. Burst pipes come with huge damages

When a pipe bursts and the water valve is not turned off, thousands of gallons of water can burst inside your home, destroying everything. From the flooring, the walls to the interior, everything can and probably will be destroyed if you are not home to call a plumber immediately.

Even if you are at home when a pipe bursts, it is very likely that you will still face a huge damage. Now imagine the potential damage that can occur if nobody is at home and there is just one friend that comes along every few days to check on your house.

Of course such problems do not need to occur every time you are not at home. But just as they say "Better safe than sorry", turning off the water is easy to do, but can save you a lot of trouble in case of a pipe bursting when you are not around. 

2. Water damages cost a lot of money

Every person that ever had to deal with a water damage can assure you that these kind of damages ALWAYS cost a lot of money, even, if you have an insurance. We have seen water damages many times during our years as plumbers serving New Haven, CT and the surrounding areas and know how cost-intensive water damages can be. 

Water is cruel, when a pipe bursts or you have a leak somewhere and are not around, it will go anywhere it can. Water can not only destroy basements, but also the walls, the interior with all of its memories...just about anything. No matter how tiny the gap, water can go anywhere and it always finds a place to flow to. 

Dealing with a huge water damage and getting repaired all the stuff that has been destroyed will get you sleepless nights and will take away all the relaxation you had while being on vacation. We will say it again and won't stop doing so, please make sure to turn off the main water supply when you go on vacation. Turning off the water has no downside to it, but can help you save a lot of money which you can then take for your next vacation.

3. Insurances often do not pay everything!

You might feel safe when thinking about a burst pipe because you know that you have an insurance especially for water damages. But let us tell you, our experience has shown us that these so called water damage insurances often don't pay all the things that have been destroyed. No matter how good your insurance is, you can be sure that you will always be out of pocket when everything is dried out, cleaned and all the necessary things have been repaired. Even though these insurances say that they help you and make you feel safe in case of a water damage, they too want to earn money so many insurers go into "cost minimization mode" when a big problem occurs. 

A cost minimization mode means, that the insurers try to find any reason why they don't have to pay everything because they are fully aware that water damages are always very cost-intensive. 

Please note: Always read the fine print of your insurance. Sometimes the insurance policies are voided when a water damage happens while being on vacation and you have forgotten to turn off the main water line supply!! Also be aware that most residential insurance policies operate under the premise that the house is being tended to daily. If that's not the case, the policy might be voided and you are left alone with all the costs. 

When dealing with a water damage, it is not just the walls, the flooring etc. that get destroyed and need to be repaired, but also the electrics. Often clients with a water damage due to a burst pipe or a huge water leak need a complete rewiring of the electrics as well.


If you want to make sure that your insurance policy really covers everything they say or you think they'll cover, ALWAYS check the fine print to find out what your insurance company covers and under which circumstances the insurance policies are voided.

4. You'll have a lot of Stress and Inconvenience

When you come home from a nice vacation to a flooded home, your stress level will rise to a point even higher than before you went on vacation. Dealing with a water damage means a lot of inconvenience. Suddenly you can not live in your home anymore and need a place to stay while your home is being repaired. Then you also have to make many calls. The insurance company needs to be called, a plumber needs to fix the water damage and often you also need an electrician who can take care of all the electrics. 

Turning off the water before you go on vacation is a small and fast thing to do, but can save you a huge amount of stress. So again our advice is to turn off the water valve and be sure that you can enjoy your vacation without any nightmare awaiting you when you come back.

Where to find the main water line valve

Knowing where to find the main water line valve is not only important for when you leave home for vacation, but for any plumbing problem that involves water. The first thing you should always do when you encounter a water leak, burst pipe etc. is to turn off the main water line.

Make sure that everyone in your house, even neighbors or friends who take care of your home while you are away, know where to find and how to shut off the main water line supply of your home.

We hopefully have convinced you on how important it is to turn off the water supply when you go on vacation. Now you might be all willing to turn off the water supply but might be wondering on where to find the valve to do so. Don't worry, we are here to help you with that as well.

Usually you find the valve for the main water line in one of the following locations:

  • In the basement
  • On an outside wall in a utility area of the house
  • In the crawl space
  • At your concrete slab 

Once you have found the water valve, you should always test if it works perfectly, before going on vacation. The main water supply valve can either be a wheel or a lever handle. To turn it off, you either have to turn the wheel clockwise or just close the lever handle. 

When you have closed the main water supply, go to your kitchen or bathroom and check if the water stops flowing. Remember that the water that is already in your pipes will come out regardless if the main water valve is shut off or not, so just give it a few seconds. If the water keeps flowing even after 30-60 seconds (maximum), it means that the the main water supply is not turned off correctly. In this case you should try again or call a plumber near you who can help you and make sure, that the water line supply is turned off completely. 

Another thing to remember: When the main water line to your home is turned off and a pipe bursts while you are not at home (or even when you are at home), there will still be water coming out of the burst pipe. The good thing is, that it will only be the water that is already inside your pipe, but nothing more. Having just a bit of water running out of your pipe is better than a continuous flow of water, which can send hundred of gallons of water inside your home.

If you are not sure where you find the water valve to turn off the water, just call a plumber near you. He can not only help you find the water supply valve, but also give you tips on how to protect your house when you are gone and answer you any questions you might have. 

If you live in the New Haven County, you can also ask us for help by calling us 203-902-242 or sending us a message.

Always check the sum pump before going on vacation

We want to give you another tip that is also important and that is to always check the sum pump before leaving for vacation. It is not only the risk of a burst pipe you want to avoid, but also a malfunctioning sum pump. If the sum pump is not working correctly, you could also get a water damage due to rainwater. 

Get your free estimate today

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions on how to check if the main water line supply is turned off correctly. Of course you can also ask us any other question you might have regarding our plumbing services for the New Haven County. 

 We will assist you with your questions as fast as possible.