Do you turn off the Water and Electricity where you are away

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 08:44
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Can someone inform me is it best to turn off the water and electricity when we go away. We have a dishwasher and washing machine permanently connected. Although the possibility is remote of a burst is remote it is a lot of flowing water for a week or two??
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Reply By: landseka - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:02

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:02
Hi Lee, 5 years ago we went on a van trip lasting 6 months, when we returned we found the house full of black mould, it coated everything, walls, ceilings, floor & all furniture. It took lots of dollars and lots of work to clean it up. A lot of furniture was tossed out.

The cause?

The evaporative air conditioner decided to start operating of its own accord and was running for an unknown time, perhaps months, pumping humid air into a closed up house.

Trust me, it will not happen again.

Cheers Neil
AnswerID: 483810

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 18:42

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 18:42
Neil!! The problem is most new equipment has electronic switches, so all is needed is a electrical spike or blackout to set the appliances into action.. It is a trap!! Michael
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Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:07

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:07
This is a real pro's and con's argument.

Remember your power and water are turned on for 365 days a year why would the days you are away be any different....hmmm well

If you are going to leave the power and water turned on it is a good idea to shut the valves on ya washing machine and dishwasher.

Even better there are some flow triggered valves avalable for those appliances.
After a mate of mine had a dishwasher hose burst and wreck a kitchen he installed these valves on all water connected appliances.

If there is a burst hose the valve shuts......and these are there every day....most kitchens will be completely buggered by the time you get home from work if a hose bursts.

These days there are often things you want to keep running like fridges and freezers and perhaps home management systems and may even have ya PVR set to record stuff while you are away.

so people do it with the idea they will be saving electricity.
yeh well
are ya gona clean out ya fridge and freezer.

then there is the hot water system...years ago when I was a kid, we went away for 2 weeks, we turned the electricity off....when we came home there still enough hot water for tw of us to have a short shower.

so leaving the hot water goind and not being used is not a big cost saver.

personally I unplug all sorts of stuff and turn off the taps for the washers...but we leave the power and water turned on.

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Reply By: Member - MIKE.G - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:17

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:17
Hi Lee. we turn off all electrical appliances at the wall and remove plugs, especially the TV.
Turn off the hot water at the power box but make sure that the fridge and freezer are left on or you will get home to a stinking mess, as unfortunate friends of ours experienced!
Turn off the taps to the dish washer and washing machine (and fridge if you have an ice maker) and you should not have any problems.

Happy travels,


AnswerID: 483812

Reply By: PeterInSa - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:44

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 09:44
Wife OS, me, decided to go fishing with mate and his wife for 3 days early last week. Turned water off washing machine and reverse Osmosis system under kitchen sink, turned all power off except phone/Alarm system, but including power point behind microwave.

Turned out the plug in the PP behind the microwave was for our small freezer and not the MW as found out yeaterday after wife came home and went to get something out of the freezer, all was defrosted............. an expensive fishing trip.

AnswerID: 483816

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 10:35

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 10:35
Lee - I turn any taps off to washing machines and dishwashers, but leave the power on. Hoses can rupture, but it's relatively uncommon to have electrical failures that lead to disaster.
If a fire starts because of an electrical fault, then there's not a lot of difference in the result whether you're home or not - you're nearly always going to be reliant on your local fireys to put it out.
If your home is in a rural area, it's going to burn, anyway, because the fireys rarely have enough warning and time to get to a rural house fire, before it's well alight.
The biggest single problem is thieves targetting your empty house. On that basis, it's wise to have someone checking on the house fairly regularly, and putting a light and radio on, attached to a timer, to at least make it look like there might be someone home.
Place any irreplaceable valuables in fireproof pouches, or a fireproof safe - then head off on tour, with minimal worries.

Cheers - Ron.
AnswerID: 483819

Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 13:50

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 13:50
Where house fires are attributed to "an electrical fault" it is almost always a connected appliance to blame. Exceptions may be very old wiring or unapproved wiring. So it should be safe to leave the power on for fridges, security etc. but remove plugs from wall sockets for all other appliances.


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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 14:41

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 14:41
Allan - True, but there's always the odd electrical fire caused by vermin in the ceiling, chewing on wires, too.
When my house burnt down, it was entirely due to the power suppliers fault. The 3 phase lines running past my house in a small country town, were not tight enough, and on a windy day with strong gusts, one of the phase wires was flung up and over the neutral wire. This put 90V into the neutral wire.

I was 90kms away, working all day, and every regular electrical item in the house was on - fridges, HWS, etc. I also had a clock radio on, alongside my bed. The combined over-voltage of 330V, set fire to the clock radio, and the resultant flames set fire to the curtains. I came home on dark to find I had no house.

The fireys got there in 8 mins after the smoke was spotted, but with a timber frame house, they were behind the 8-ball, it was well alight. They switched off the power by pulling the fuses out of the switchboard, and started to pull sheets of iron off the roof - and they got lots of sparks!

The electrical inspector turned up next morning, checked the wiring and found the 90 volts registering on the neutral wire! He said nothing and just went away. Just days after the fire, they replaced all the transmission line wiring up the street.
I still don't understand how the circuit breakers back down the line didn't pop out when the lines twitched up. I suspect there was a fault in their protection system somewhere.

Cheers - Ron.
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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 18:48

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 18:48
I got to ask..Did the power supplier rebuild/repair your house?

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 21:33

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 21:33
Stu & "Bob" - Nope. In those days (1982), you couldn't sue electricity suppliers (such as the SEC of W.A. my supplier) for supply faults or negligence. I got a pretty miserable payout from my own insurer, and had to be satisfied with that.

Now, here's the rub. If you recall the Ash Wednesday bushfires of the following year, 1983 - you probably know that many of the victims of those disastrous fires sued their local electricity suppliers in a class action, for negligence - and won.

QUOTE - "Melbourne barrister Tim Tobin, QC, successfully represented hundreds of victims of the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires in a class action against the State Electricity Commission.
The statutory authority was forced to pay out more than $300 million to more than 5000 claimants, after clashing power lines were found to have caused fires at Mount Macedon, north of Melbourne, and Warrnambool, in the state's West." END QUOTE

Now, perhaps if I had employed a local Philadelphia lawyer - and was able to mount a class action with others - I might have been able to set a precedent and win some compensation from my electricity supplier.
As it was, I was unaware that there was even a ghost of a chance of sueing the SEC of W.A., so I never even thought about proceeding with any legal action against them.

The problem is of course, is that only after a fire, are you aware of the procedures you could have employed to protect irreplaceable items such as photos, mementos, trophies, heirlooms, etc etc. - and even compensation from the SEC of W.A. wouldn't have helped replace them. However, a heap of additional compensation certainly would have helped.

Cheers - Ron.
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Reply By: Bazooka - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 11:38

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 11:38
Lee - with regard to water it might depend on how old your hot water service is and where it's located. Ours is under the house (sloping block) and the tank let go once when we were away. Fortunately the water drained away and did no damage. A friend had major house damage as a result of a ceiling tank failure. It's rare as you say, but can happen. If you do turn the water off then it would be a good idea to also flick the power switch to the hot water service.
AnswerID: 483826

Reply By: happychap - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 14:26

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 14:26
One of the tricks used by the light-fingered brigade is that they turn off the water and electricity at a house where they intend to carry out their nefarious trade. They return the next night, and if the water and power are still switched off, it is a sure sign the occupants are away. So they then feel safe in removing the contents of the house without interference.

If they came across a house where the water and power were already switched off, would that give them the go-ahead there and then?

It may be better to switch off power at individual units within the house and remove the plug, as well as turning off water taps to those appliances that use them. Also, as someone suggested, have a timer on a light, and have a neighbour monitor it daily. If the light fails to come on at its set time, then an investigation by them would be in order.
AnswerID: 483833

Reply By: vk1dx - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 15:54

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 15:54
My first reaction is to say "Didn't your mother teach you anything". But that is not very sociable.

To start with, the water to the washing machine is always turned off after the machine has been used.

For a weekend: Nothing more.

For a longer time: We turn the water to the dishwasher off and disconnect (plugs out of wall) the power to the entertainment equipment and computers off. Disconnect the modem from the telephone line (plug out of wall socket).

Not part of the question:
We have a neighbour who pops in every day to feed etc the cats. The cats never go outside other than through an opening in a window to en extensive cage and run array outside where they can lay in the sun or just ogle the birds etc. As the cats are "family" we leave the heater on and the cooler on. But the heater temperature is reset lower to 18 degrees and the cooling only down to 22 degrees. Don't we to spoil them. Do we! It once was said that "happiness is being owned by a cat". A bit of tongue in cheek there.

We do not turn the all electricity off as we have a solar electrical array and actually make a few quid when we are away. Even with the heater and/or evaporative cooler running.

The gardens are irrigated automatically and the water is left on for them.

AnswerID: 483836

Follow Up By: Member - Wamuranman - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 08:06

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 08:06
Good on you vk1dx for making arrangements for such good care and responsible care of your cats while you are away. I agree wholeheartedly - if you take on a pet -it is for the life of the pet.
We too have an indoor cat - she is 16 now and nearing the end of her life..but we always make sure she has the best possible care (she has arthritiis in her rear legs).
Your comments warmed my heart.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 08:49

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 08:49

And that goes for dogs as well. But we have a soft heart for the cats. They have an uncanny way of smooching and being on your lap when you are down. The dogs we have had in the past, while very loyal, alert and full of joy, never seemed to have that "knowing". And I have been down many times.

They do not deserve to freeze or boil while we are away.

Have a good one.

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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 18:39

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 18:39
I would say YES!!!! We came home from work a few months ago to find the house with 10mm of water covering almost 70% of the house. One of those flexible SS covered hoses that join the taps to the wall had burst on the kitchen sink. We estimate it had burst about 2 hours previously to us returning home so a week, a month, six months away would be a disaster!! If you turn you water of for extended periods and you have an off peak hot water and intend to leave the power on, best you turn off the power to the off peak tank at least. Michael
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 21:53

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 21:53
Michael - I knew a farmer who built a new house, moved in - and then shortly after, went on Summer holidays for 3 weeks to the South Coast.
He locked the house up thoroughly, and turned the power and taps to the washing machine and dishwasher off.

When he returned, he was greeted by water, 500mm deep inside the house! - seeping and leaking from a glass sliding doorway in the house! He saw the water level against the glass sliding doors, as he approached the house!

What had happened, was, the plumbers had silver-soldered two sections of copper pipe together, and then inserted the joined section inside the cavity wall (double brick and tile house).

However, the plumbers hadn't tested their silver-soldered join! It was leaking - enough to fill the wall cavities -and then most of the rest of the rooms in the house - to 500mm deep, in the 3 weeks the owner was away!

Because the house was fully locked and all doors were new and tight-fitting - the water swelled the wooden doors and sealed them even better! Only the glass sliding door was leaking, and it wasn't enough to release any volume of water! The bathroom door had been left shut, so the water couldn't get away from the bathroom floor drain.

The inside of the house was a complete disaster zone! All the kitchen cupboards had to ripped out and replaced, all the floor coverings the same - even the beds had to be replaced. Most of the furniture he'd moved in was binned. It was a very expensive repair bill, and the builders insurance company had to pick up the tab!

Cheers - Ron.
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