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Away for 2 months and plan to shut of water

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  • Feb 9th, 2010 7:49 pm
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Deal Addict
Apr 2, 2007
2009 posts
64 upvotes
Niagara area

Away for 2 months and plan to shut of water

We will be away for 2 months this winter and my only concern is possible water leaks. We are in a new home and have had several leaks from the supply on 2 toilets. Builder had American standard replace the tank on one and the inside float unit that goes to the supply on the other one.
I plan on shutting off the water at the main and empty the tanks by flushing. I wonder if I can leave my water tank switched to vacation mode or is it best to shut it down completely. I hate messing with pilot lights.

Plan on setting thermostat at 65 and we will be having someone check the house almost daily to make sure heat is on.
20 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 5, 2004
2043 posts
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Medicine Hat
Thanks for the life story, what was your question?
[OP]
Deal Addict
Apr 2, 2007
2009 posts
64 upvotes
Niagara area
randomdef wrote:
Nov 9th, 2009 9:39 pm
Thanks for the life story, what was your question?
I wonder if I can leave my water tank switched to vacation mode or is it best to shut it down completely. I hate messing with pilot lights.

Hoping someone with experience would reply, like a plumber not a smart ass. I guess I could have just said that and hoped people could fill in the background.

Happy now!!!
Deal Addict
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Feb 25, 2007
1726 posts
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Toronto
I don't think you should shut off the water coming into the house in the winter but just at each toilet and empty the reservoirs/bowls.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2002
5723 posts
509 upvotes
Frankly I would completely shut down the water tank and I would drain all pipes in the house to prevent the pipes from bursting in sub zero weather if the heating fails. And then I'd turn off the water line coming into the house.

In addition to draining the toilet tank I would add toilet antifreeze to the toilet bowels to prevent that water from freezing (you can't/shouldn't drain that fluid out because it holds back sewer gasses). Places like Canada Tire sell this stuff, used mostly by cottage owners.
Deal Guru
Oct 6, 2005
14656 posts
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pmc wrote:
Nov 10th, 2009 12:54 am
I don't think you should shut off the water coming into the house in the winter but just at each toilet and empty the reservoirs/bowls.
I thought that is bad - because it allows toxic/smelly gases to enter from the pipes.
Deal Fanatic
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Jan 18, 2004
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Markham
Recommendations for winter vacations are usually to turn off the main, turn off the water heater and drain it, open all taps and drain remaining water, you can then close all taps but leave one open (bottom most?), lower house temperature. If you're paranoid about lost of heat then pour some automotive antifreeze into toilets bowls and each sink (since traps have water). And in OPs case, flush toilet to empty water from tank. I would also unplug electronics that are wasting phantom electricity. And if the fridge is empty, you can shut that off too.
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Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2001
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If you are not wanting to shut off the pilot light, I would not be overly concerned with the hot water tank. It uses very little gas (and I'm assuming you'll still be having gas service, not disconnecting it all together) and if you don't empty the tank it poses the same risk to leaking whether it's on or off (because you shut the main water line off). I would just turn the knob to vacation mode and be done with it.
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Jan 18, 2004
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Markham
TrevorK wrote:
Nov 10th, 2009 9:50 am
If you are not wanting to shut off the pilot light, I would not be overly concerned with the hot water tank. It uses very little gas (and I'm assuming you'll still be having gas service, not disconnecting it all together) and if you don't empty the tank it poses the same risk to leaking whether it's on or off (because you shut the main water line off). I would just turn the knob to vacation mode and be done with it.
If you turn the water heater off, the assumption is that you will drain it too, so no leaks.
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Member
Jan 12, 2009
315 posts
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If you shut off your water supply I belive you should shut off your water heater. The reason is that water in the tank may slowly evaporate and the tank may eventually be damaged from the heat if there is not enough water in the tank. I'm not sure how likely this is or if it really is required, but I read it somewhere in the past when I was considering turning off the main water for an extended period.
Deal Addict
Oct 15, 2007
2471 posts
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if you are paranoid about your heating system failing then do as others have said

shut off main water
drain everything starting from the lowest point
turn off and drain your hwt (make sure you have the closest faucet open when doing so
and pour plumbing antifreeze in all toilets and sinks

when you come back, make sure you fill your hwt completely before turning the tank back on, and have the closest faucet open

also when re-firing the main water do it very slowly, with a faucet open
at times ive seen the increased pressure seperate weak solder joints
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide
[OP]
Deal Addict
Apr 2, 2007
2009 posts
64 upvotes
Niagara area
john_ertw wrote:
Nov 10th, 2009 10:01 am
If you shut off your water supply I belive you should shut off your water heater. The reason is that water in the tank may slowly evaporate and the tank may eventually be damaged from the heat if there is not enough water in the tank. I'm not sure how likely this is or if it really is required, but I read it somewhere in the past when I was considering turning off the main water for an extended period.
John this was my main concern. I kind of doubt that in 2 months 40 gal of water kept at 72 F (vacation mode) will evaporate but not sure and would hate for something weird to happen and fry my tank. After reading my hot water manual which I now found I find that my ignition is electric and it appears I don't have to light a pilot. If that is the case and it is simple to restart I will shut it down completely.
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Aug 2, 2001
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GTT1 wrote:
Nov 10th, 2009 4:14 pm
John this was my main concern. I kind of doubt that in 2 months 40 gal of water kept at 72 F (vacation mode) will evaporate but not sure and would hate for something weird to happen and fry my tank. After reading my hot water manual which I now found I find that my ignition is electric and it appears I don't have to light a pilot. If that is the case and it is simple to restart I will shut it down completely.
I'm not that educated in the internals of a hot water tank, however if you had a water shutoff going to your hot water tank (on the cold line, mine does so I assume others do) you could shut that off and there is no worry of evaporation, because any water that evaporates would just condensate back into the tank since the hot water system would be pressurized.

As a side note, you may also want to check out your homeowners policy. Mine requires if I am away for extended periods of time that I designate someone to go through my house every X days.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2002
5723 posts
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In the water tank there is no issue of evaporation since it is essentially a closed system, but if the water tank develops a leak and all the water escapes then the heating elements (electric) could burn out if the tank only contains air. Similar damage might be possible to gas heating elements. That's why it is better to make sure that the tank's heating system is completely turned off while you are away.
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Jul 20, 2003
793 posts
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Surrey
I am going away for a month this Feb. so general consensus is
1. Shut off main water
2. Turn the HWT to vacation mode
3. Turn the furnace temp to 17degrees C.

Anything else?
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