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Old 03-06-2012, 07:09 PM   #1
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Flooded basement at home while gone

How many people shut off their water service before leaving for a trip?

I have a friend who left town for a long weekend. When he got home he had 30" of water in his basement and a $4,000 water use bill. Total cost of the event was over $20,000. I have another friend who owns a plumbing service business. He tells me about his burst hose and undetected plumbing leak service calls. He told me he's never seen one undetected leak do less than $1,000 damage.

I have a third friend who owns a catastrophic event cleaning company. He keeps several crews busy cleaning up behind fires and floods. More than a few of the floods are caused by plumbing leaks. Typical plumbing leak event cost is over $10,000.

I own one apartment house that had two copper caps fail and leak in the last ten years. Tenants found and reported both.

After my friend had his basement flooded I asked the plumber about a whole house shut off and he told me about the service shut off switches he installs for dentists and medical clinics. They use an electric solenoid valve that uses power to open the valve. Normal power failure position of the switch is closed. They just install a switch located near the employee exit and the last person to leave just turns the lights and the water off every day when they leave.

I had the valve installed on the water main at my home. I located the switch (with an indicator light) by my back door. We turn it off every time we leave. Just like turning off the lights when we leave. When we leave for extended stay we turn the water heaters off. When we leave for the day everything water stays on except the water main valve. We've been using this system for over 5 years. Initial installation cost was less than $500. I used a low voltage type and I wired the switch myself.

Gary
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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:20 PM   #2
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Before we leave on any extended trip, the water and hot water tank are turned off. We also unplug things like tv's, computers, etc. If it's in the winter, we leave the heat set as low as possible and turn the AC off in the summer. We've never had a problem but have been in the habit of shutting those things down just in case.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:29 PM   #3
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We have a ball valve to turn the water off to the house, but leaves water to the sprinkler system. We are on the road now and the water is off and the water heater breaker is tripped.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:34 PM   #4
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As Richard noted, shutting off water inlet valve is half the solution if you have a water heater, and especially a gas water heater.. Leaving gas water heater turned on and water inlet shut off can lead to overheating and house fire...
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:18 PM   #5
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WAGS Valve

Anyone use a WAGS Valve?

Taco-Hvac: WAGS Valve


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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...g?t=1278182564
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:32 PM   #6
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Splitrock...do you have a link or brand name for the valve? Great idea. Twice I have had toilet tank filler tubes cause problems...luckily no real monetary damage but a real pain to clean up.

Thanks...
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:47 PM   #7
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Mine is something like this. I got it from the plumber. Mine is low voltage.

Amazon.com: WaterCop Motorized Actuator With 3/4 In. Water Valve: Home Improvement

The plumber installed a manual bypass on mine that I've never had to use . . . yet.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:03 PM   #8
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Last August my cousin was in Utah when he got a call from California to notify him that water was running down his driveway from under his front door! Before it was over, it took almost three months for the repair work to be completed and umpteen thousands spent on replacement kitchen cabinets and furniture besides all the sheetrock and trim work. In addition, the single story home required all new wood flooring throughout and every door was replaced. The meter measured over 30,000 gallons that month.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:02 PM   #9
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Thanks Splitrock- That is a great reminder to turn off the water when we go out of town. It does not have to be anything fancy- just a simple gate or ball valve. It does need to be convenient though.

Dan
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:19 PM   #10
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Thanks Splitrock- That is a great reminder to turn off the water when we go out of town. It does not have to be anything fancy- just a simple gate or ball valve. It does need to be convenient though.

Dan
That's what we found. The convenient issue is why we put the switch right at the back door. It works very well. We also have the policy of not leaving any appliance running when we leave the house. No washing machines, no dishwashers, no clothes dryers . . . nothing.

Some of my engineering college training was failure analysis. I learned there are no accidents, just preparation meeting opportunity. That just leaves me with two elements to influence in order to better my odds of avoiding a catastrophe. With the water topic, not shutting off the water is the preparation, and leaving the premises unmonitored is the opportunity. A flood and damaged property is the expected result.
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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...g?t=1278182564
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:20 PM   #11
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Probably more likely to die in a car accident then come home to a flooded house..just saying...
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:47 PM   #12
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Well, it happened to us! We had an unexpected freeze on New Year's Eve in 2010...and we were at an Airstream Rally only about 45 miles form home...but we'd been on a trip since before Christmas... At that time we didn't have a way to shut the water off to the house without also shutting down the water to the drip irrigation system so we left it on, thinking it would be OK...I man this is Tucson, right? Wrong! We had a pipe burst in our kitchen ceiling New Year's Eve and came home on 3 Jan to water gushing out of the ceiling in the kitchen and dining areas and 5" of water in the back half of our home. It was a nightmare. We were out of our home for repairs until mid-April and lived in and worked form our Bambi in the front yard all that time. We had to remove every stick of belongings from the house before repairs could even begin...we lived through it, but, man what an ordeal it was. Before we were done we were pushing a $100K claim. Over a year later we are not completely recovered in terms of our lives being back to normal. NOW we have a turn-off valve at the back door where we can shut the water to the house off...so when we go away, we just shut the water down and put the water heater on "vacation" setting (which keeps the pilot lit but does not heat the water). In the winter if we are going to be gone for very long we shut the water down to the entire property at the alley...including the drip system. In the winter we set the furnace to 65 degrees, and in the summer we set the AC to 80... We will never leave the house on a trip without turning the water off again. A very hard lesson learned.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:52 PM   #13
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Well, it happened to us!
Wow! Sad story! Thanks for sharing it.

Gary
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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
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Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 03-07-2012, 03:49 AM   #14
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alarm systems with sensors for water flow can be bundled with fire monitoring.

good heads up for us splitrock.
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