Long vacations — we’re all looking forward to one, and we all want something that we can truly enjoy. But if you’re like me, you’ll always have thoughts about coming back from a vacation with busted water pipes, flooding the house. One thing that makes me feel at ease when on a long vacation is turning off the water, but is it really necessary?

Turning off the water mains is necessary if you’re leaving for a week, or maybe even more. It’ll save you from all the potential damages and repair costs that a busted pipe may cause. You can leave some essentials open, but not the line that goes straight inside your house.

There are several reasons why turning off the water is necessary, and we’ll go through all of them in great detail. Stick around because this topic has the potential to let you enjoy your vacation more than you would’ve thought possible.

Potential Issues When on a Long Vacation

There’s one quote from Fred Spaulding, president of Quality Home Improvements, Inc., that every homeowner should remember: “If you’re going to have a leaky supply line, it’s going to happen while you’re away.”

It’s so true that almost everyone on vacation gets a persistent thought that they’ll come back from a long vacation with a flooded house. If you’ve experienced it before, you can never be at peace while on vacation if you know that you have an open water line.

We’ve all heard stories from people about it, but how bad can a busted pipe be if you’re not there to deal with the issue as soon as it starts?

Here are potential issues that you’d have to consider before you go on vacation:

  • Busted washing machine hose: an open water line could damage your washing machine hose. If it happens while you’re away, you may have to deal with massive flooding and extensive damages. The longer it takes for you to deal with the issue, the higher the cost.
  • Leaking water heater: water heaters have tanks that store water, so turning off the supply line isn’t enough. A leak in the tank, although not as massive as you’d have if you left the supply line open, could still cause flooding in your house. Click here for more information.
  • Broken supply line in your toilet: water runs continuously, and if your toilet’s water line gets damaged while you’re on vacation, it could cause severe damages in multiple locations throughout your house.
  • Leaks in swamp cooler lines: even if you turn off a swamp cooler, the water will still run through it. What makes it even worse is that many people have them on their house’s roof or attic. Just imagine the potential damages that it could cause when it starts to leak while you’re away for a couple of days.
  • Broken faucets in multiple locations: one leaking faucet is bad enough if you’re away for a couple of days. But with continuous pressure, multiple faucets could start to leak while you’re on a trip. Not only will you have to deal with damages in different locations of your house, but the repair cost could also be extensive.
  • Damaged water lines throughout your house: it’s the worst that can happen while you’re on vacation. Imagine having multiple water lines that leak for more than a week before you can deal with it. It can cost thousands of dollars of repairs, and you can’t even recoup most of your losses.
  • Sprinkler lines flooding your yard: some may advise that you leave your sprinkler on to keep watering your yard even while you’re away. However, a busted sprinkler on your yard can also cause flooding that may require major repairs. It’s the last thing you’d want to deal with after coming back from a refreshing vacation.

Will There Be a Downside to Turning Off Water?

You’ll hear some people who’ll say that turning off the water can do more damage than not turning it off. Some will even advise people to empty their water lines before they leave. But is there really a downside to turning off the water before you go on a vacation?

Turning off the water mains can do some damage, especially if you do it regularly. Frequent changes with pressure can cause problems with your system, which may lead to even more issues. It’s true, but it’s not as much of an impact as what most people would believe.

In fact, your system gets the same pressure changes every time you open your faucet. It’s an insignificant change, and it won’t compromise your system even if you do it thousands of times per year. As long as you turn on your water supply correctly, turning it off a few times a year won’t have a significant impact on your supply line.

Emptying Your Water Lines

Emptying the water lines before you leave is another step that some people take. It reduces the chance of any leak while they’re away, especially for an extended period. However, if you return from vacation, don’t turn on the water system immediately. It would be best to turn it on very slowly because sudden changes in the pressure can cause a water hammer effect that can stress the pipes.

Generally, there’s no downside to turning off the water mains, as long as you turn it on correctly. Changes in the pressure can impact the pipes, but it’s insignificant compared to the damages you’d have to deal with when a water line gets damaged. Turning off the water mains doesn’t take a lot of time to do, and it’ll give you peace of mind while on vacation, plus it’ll save you thousands from repairs.

Should You Turn Off Water Every Time You Leave?

If turning off the water when on an extended vacation is necessary, shouldn’t we also turn it off when going to work? After all, leaks can also happen while at the office, and you won’t be there to deal with it, right?

You’d have to weigh the pros and cons of turning off the water mains to determine whether you should turn it off every time you leave the house.

  • First would be the frequent changes of pressure in the pipes. Remember, changes in the pressure can increase your water pipe’s chance to fail, and turning it off every time could cause more damage.
  • You’d also have to consider the length of time at which you can’t deal with the issue. There’s a massive difference between a water line leaking for 8 hours and damaged pipes that leaked for more than a week. The longer the leak lasts, the more damage it can cause.

Turning off the water pipe every time you leave can save you from dealing with a flooded house when you arrive from work, but it drastically reduces the lifespan of your supply line.

Turning off the water when on an extended vacation is necessary because the damages of prolonged flooding can be extensive. However, this doesn’t mean that you also have to turn it off whenever you leave the house.

The risk of compromising your water pipe outweighs the benefits you can get from a water line that only leaked for a few hours. It also saves you from the trouble of emptying all lines, then refilling them slowly every time you arrive.


When you’re on vacation, you want to be “in the moment” and not think about the things that could go wrong while you’re away. If you’ve experienced a leaking water pipe, it won’t be easy to feel at ease if you know that you have open running water inside your house.

Turning off the water whenever you’re on an extended vacation is necessary because it gives you peace of mind. It also saves you from all the troubles that you may have to deal with when you arrive.

You may also want to read: Should I Turn Off the Water Heater if the Water Is Off?