Plumbing in the Home/Water Pipes


I live in New Jersey, in a single family home, where the nighttime temperature already hit zero degrees this winter. I plan to go on vacation next month and intend to shut off the water to the entire house. In the past, whenever I went away for an extended period of time during the winter, I always turned off the house water. Yesterday I spoke to a friend about this and he suggested that instead of closing the main water valve, that I leave it open and turn on one cold and one hot water faucet so that it drips. This way, he says, there is water constantly running through the pipes (although very slowly) which will prevent the pipes from freezing. If I shut off the main valve, the pipes could freeze and then burst when I return home and turn the water back on. Which method do you suggest I follow so that the pipes won't freeze and then burst? Thank you.

Frank, I only recommend the drip method for short periods of time, like over night. I live in north western NY, we see single digit and sub zero temps. often. When I go on vacation during the winter I turn off the main valve at the meter. Then, I open both hot and cold faucets on the the first floor and all the faucets on the second floor. If you have a basement and there is a faucet you should open it as well. If not, it is possible(not recommended) to drain the line at the meter connection. (Only if you are experienced and confident you won't break anything) if you are very careful. Unless the heating system fails while your away draining the line in the basement is usually not necessary since the piping is usually exposed and there is a source of heat close by. Also, you should turn the water heater to the vacation setting or the pilot setting, do not turn it to off. The pilot should be left on.
Lastly, after the water has been turned off, flush all toilets too.


Plumbing in the Home

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Jay Nicholas


Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)


40 years in the business, 40 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

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Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

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