By Anja Smith
With the calendar flipped to June, children are out of school and many families are getting ready to go on vacation. Between transportation, accommodations, entertainment and meals, the total cost of a trip can skyrocket quickly.
After returning home, the last thing families want is to be faced with is spending more money. But that could be the case for those who come back to a problem that arose while they were gone. The best way to avoid some issues that could develop is to focus on taking preventative measures before leaving.
There are plenty of checklist items to be marked off prior to leaving your home for a period of time. Families will make sure everything’s packed, pets are boarded, and nothing is left running inside the home.
But it’s easy to overlook something running to the home – water. Inside their house, folks may check to make sure faucet handles are turned off and may even turn off water to toilets. However, it’s easy to not even think about turning off water at the main line or putting a water heater in a “vacation” mode.
While these additional steps could save folks a minor amount on a water bill, they could also end up saving thousands of dollars in repairs if something goes wrong while the family is away.
What could go wrong?
A water catastrophe within a home, where the water had not been shut off, could typically begin with a leaking water heater.
A water heater unit, which typically holds 40 to 50 gallons of water, has no sensor for knowing when water is being lost due to a leak. In a situation where the water is still on, that water heater will continue to try to fill up and thus continue leaking. For water heaters in a garage or another outdoor enclosure, the water damage could be minimal. For water heaters inside the home, the damage could be exorbitant.
For a worst-case example, if part of a water heater rusts out and a leak begins a day or two after families have left on a one- or two-week vacation, those families could return to a house that’s completely flooded.
How to turn off water
There are different ways of turning off a home’s water supply. In slab homes, a main water shut-off valve could be located in a garage or near wherever the water heater is installed. In other homes, the valve might be in a basement or crawlspace. Turning off a main water shut-off valve is as simple as turning the handle.
Another location for shutting off water can be found at the underground water meter. These are often located under an iron lid near the road in front of the home. To shut off the water here, the iron lid must be lifted off to access the turn-off valve. The easiest way to finish the job is by using water meter key to turn the valve. Water meter keys are long T-shaped devices that can be purchased online or at most home improvement stores and range in price from $10 to $20.
A crescent wrench and screwdriver can also be used instead of the key, but reaching the valve with those can be a bit more challenging. Those who can’t find their main water valve, or don’t have the tools necessary to turn it off, might want to call a plumber.
Once the water supply line has been turned off, indoor faucets should be turned on to ensure that all the indoor pipes have drained.
Vacation for water heaters
For those who don’t want to completely turn off the water, some water heaters come with a “vacation” mode that could prove beneficial. It can be accessed simply by turning a knob to a “vacation” setting typically found around the base of a water heater.
Vacation mode sees the water heater use the minimal amount of energy to flow water through the system. In the winter, this setting helps ensure a prevention of frozen plumbing.
In addition to being an environmentally-friendly, energy-saving setting, it can reduce utility bills. This setting reduces the water heater’s full operation as well. In turn, that reduces the risk of parts of the water heater wearing down and reduces corrosion and mineral build-up inside the heater.
All Clear Plumbing is a family owned and operated business that’s located between Mauldin and Simpsonville, but serves the entire Upstate. All Clear Plumbing is dedicated to excellence in service and quality. For more information, visit ACPupstate.com or call 864-979-7059.