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Keep your home safe while you’re away

It’s important to take care of essential household tasks before you leave to go on holiday to ensure your return is just as relaxing as your time away. In this article, we’ll be discussing the reasons why it’s a good idea to turn off your water supply and the steps you can take to do so safely.

The risks of leaving your water supply on can include potential water leaks, burst pipes, and subsequent flood damage to your home. Turning off your water supply can help to prevent these issues and give you peace of mind.

Key Takeaways

  • Turning off your water supply while on holiday can prevent leaks, burst pipes, and flood damage.
  • Follow recommended steps and take additional precautions to ensure your home is safe during your time away.
  • Remember to address post-holiday measures and adapt tips for specific situations.

Reasons to turn off the water supply

Prevent leaks and water damage

Turning off the water supply in your home while on a summer holiday is a wise decision. It significantly reduces the risk of leaks and the extensive damage and repairs they bring.

By shutting off your main internal water valve (stopcock), you can prevent issues such as overflowing toilets, leaking taps, or faulty appliances from causing floods in your home. With no water flow, the likelihood of a leak developing in your absence is minimal.

Reduce energy consumption

By turning off our water supply while we’re away, we are also reducing energy consumption in our home as the water heater won’t need to run continuously to maintain the desired temperature. This saves energy and contributes to our efforts in reducing our carbon footprint. Moreover, this can also result in savings on our energy bills.

Avoid burst pipes in summer

While the risk of burst pipes is more common during the winter months, it can still happen in the summer. Extended periods of water stagnation in pipes can increase pressure, potentially leading to leaks or breakage. Turning off the water supply helps to ensure that our home remains intact and problem-free upon our return from holiday.

Steps to turning off the water supply

Below is a quick summary of how to turn off your home’s water supply. Read full guide for a breakdown of the differences between internal and external stop valves for more information.

1. Locate the stopcock

First, you need to locate the stopcock in your home. The stopcock is the main internal control valve for the water supply, and it is usually found near the point where the water supply enters your house. This can be either under the kitchen sink, in a utility room, or even in the basement or garage.

2. Turn the stopcock clockwise

Once you’ve found the stopcock, you’ll need to turn it clockwise to close it. You should turn it until it is tight, but be careful not to apply too much force so as not to damage the valve. If the stopcock is stiff and difficult to turn, carefully use a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench for extra leverage.

3. Check your taps

Finally, you’ll need to check the taps in your home to make sure that the water supply has indeed been turned off. To do this, simply turn on the kitchen and bathroom taps to see if any water flows out. If there is no water flow, then you have successfully shut off the water supply.


Burst pipe on holiday


Additional precautions

Unplug electronic devices

Unplugging electronic devices before you go on holiday not only helps to save energy but also reduces the risk of electrical fires. We recommend unplugging devices such as TVs, computers, and small kitchen appliances. In the summer it can also be a good idea to unplug your boiler to help prevent any unexpected issues with your heating system while you’re away. However, in the winter, we recommend that you leave your boiler turned on and set to a low temperature to reduce the risk of frozen pipework.

Inspect your home for plumbing issues

It’s wise to inspect your home for any potential plumbing issues before setting off on your holiday. Look for any signs of leaks, such as water stains on the ceiling or damp patches on walls or floors. Check all the exposed pipes, particularly under sinks and around your boiler, for any signs of corrosion or wear. If you spot any possible issues, we recommend investigating them further with a professional before you leave.

Post-holiday measures

Inspect for leaks and issues

Upon returning from your holiday, check your home’s water pipes, especially in areas such as a basement, bathroom, and kitchen. Look for signs of leaks, water damage, or mould growth.

Reopen the water supply gradually

When we’re ready to turn the water supply back on, it’s important to do so gradually. Start by partially opening the stopcock and listening for any unusual sounds or indications of leaks. This will allow water to flow slowly through the pipes, reducing the risk of a sudden surge in pressure that could cause damage. Once you’re confident that there are no issues, fully open the stopcock to restore the usual water pressure.

Allow hot water to reheat

If your home has a hot water tank (and not a combi boiler) you will need to give the hot water system time to reheat. Hot water tanks need to refill and regain the required temperature after being turned off for an extended period. Avoid using hot water during this time and allow the system to fully recover.

By following these post-holiday measures, you can ensure the safety and proper functioning of our home’s water supply and minimise the risk of issues arising from turning the water off during our holiday.

Tips for specific situations

Long-term absence or holiday home

When planning an extended holiday or leaving your home for a long period, it’s essential to consider the risks of leaving the water supply turned on. Pipes can freeze in colder months causing them to burst. We recommend turning off your main water supply and draining all water from your home’s pipes. This will help to prevent them from freezing and any subsequent damage while you’re away. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have someone check on your home periodically to deal with any unforeseen issues.

Dealing with leaks or plumbing emergencies on holiday

Being away from your home doesn’t guarantee that it’s safe from plumbing emergencies. It’s just as important as ever to react quickly if you get notified of a leak. If possible, have a trusted friend or neighbour shut off your home’s main water supply to prevent further damage. Next, contact a reliable plumber or leak detection specialist to assess and repair the issue.

Remember, prevention is often better than cure. So, before leaving for an extended period, always double-check your home’s plumbing, turn off the main water supply, and have someone you trust regularly inspect your property.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should the main water supply be switched off during a holiday?

Yes, it is a good idea to switch off your home’s main water supply during a holiday to prevent potential water damage from burst pipes or leaks. Locate the shut-off valve and turn it off before leaving for your trip.

Is turning off the boiler necessary?

While it is not strictly necessary to turn off your boiler during a summer holiday, it can help save energy and prevent potential accidents, especially if it’s an older model with a higher risk of failure.

What appliances should be turned off for a vacation?

Before leaving for a vacation, it’s wise to turn off any appliances that use water, such as washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers, and water coolers. This can help prevent possible water damage and leaks while you are away. Additionally, consider unplugging non-essential electrical items to save energy.

Is it safe to turn off water to a combi boiler?

If you have a combi boiler, it is generally safe to turn off the water supply while on holiday, as these boilers are designed for continuous water supply and do not require a separate water storage tank. However, consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or a professional plumber for specific advice, as turning off the water supply could cause issues in certain situations.

Are faucets affected when the water supply is shut off?

Faucets should not be affected when the water supply is turned off. However, you should make sure all taps are properly closed before leaving for your holiday to avoid any leaks or damage when the water supply is turned back on.

What precautions should be taken for winter holidays?

During winter holidays, there is an increased risk of frozen pipes and potential water damage. To reduce these risks, switch off the water supply and drain the pipes before leaving. Additionally, consider leaving the central heating system on a low setting to maintain a warm temperature within the home and prevent freezing of pipes.