Water, Water Everywhere

Hi All Maybe I'll save someone a bad hair day. When I go away for more than 2-3 days I always shut off the supply (water and gas) to my water heater. I've had two water heaters fail on me and so I'm paranoid about that. When gone for more than a week I shut off all the water to the house. This time I was gone for 5 days and I only shut off the hot water line as noted. When I came in the house we heard water running---my upstairs toilet was running and the water was running over the top of the tank--the overflow tube could not handle the total volume of water that was coming in.. From what I observed, the shutoff (rubber flapper) had a very small leak that eventually allowed the tank level to drop to a point that triggered the fill valve to come on. The fill valve stuck in the on position and did not shut off the water. Have no idea how long the water ran like that but the subsequent damage is tremendous. The ceramic tile floor and vanity in the bathroom is history and as I type a guy is tearing up the floor. Underneath, in the finished basement, there is--I should say there was--another bathroom. It has been gutted--everything is out. Tiled shower, walls, ceiling, cabinets, tiled floor. There was further encroachment into other areas but not too bad. The big problem is not the wet stuff but the formation of mold which starts to grow very quickly. A special crew that handles this type of demo work has been here for 6 days and has about 2-3 more days to go. Than comes the reconstruction, two bathrooms plus other tings.. So people, what's the message? You can't protect yourself enough--From now on, main shutoff valve gets closed whenever I'm going to be gone for more than a day.
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I respect your paranoia, but dare I suggest that you may have unwittingly helped cause this latest problem? I would wager that frequent shutting off of your whole house water supply (which causes quick, drastic changes in water pressure) may cause things such as limescale to break loose which can easily clog things like toilet valves.
When I leave for extended periods (over a week) I'll turn off my washer lines but that's it, and I've never had any problems waiting for me when I got home. If you're worried about toilets, etc. you can turn them off individually but the whole house can be a "shock" to the system, in my opinion.
Of course, there are lots of other factors but I like to play devil's advocate.
rgm

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Don't agree about the quick drastic pressure changes, can be very little if the water is been trapped between two points and the pressure hydraulically locked". Your comment, I've never had any problems waiting for me when I got home"--Well, neither did I----until this time. Reminds me of the farmer in the field with his plow horse. One day while pulling the plow the horse rolled over and died--The farmer looks and says "Gee, he never did that before". I hope you never experience any water problem but don't be too complacent, it only has to happen once--no one plans on having a car accident either. MLD .

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Well, if you've got a leaky flapper or valve, it is very easy for the shut off portion to lose pressure - can you say you've never heard any sound when you reopen your valve? Not to mention if you have anything you accidently left on like an ice maker, water softener, etc. Also, limescale can stick to valves which gets broken off with use. I never said it was the cause of your valve sticking open, just that it could have helped. I've had those valves fail and the only thing in it was a chunk of lime the size of a pinhead.
Do whatever makes you feel better. You obviously don't like brainstorming if someone suggests something you're doing might have some flaws. I'd be curious how many people shut off the main when they're gone more than 24 hours. Why not shut it off when you go to work in the morning? I prefer to be confident in the maintenance of my fixtures. This problem wouldn't have burned you so bad if you didn't have a leaky flapper or your toilet valve released a manageable flow rate.

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My neighbor turned off his water when he was away. Apparently the washer valve needed pressure to seal correctly and all the water in his pipes drained towards the washing machine when he was gone. And it was filled with laundry hanging over the edge so although the tub wasn't full yet it had reached the floor.

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You could adjust the water to the toilet so that the flow is less than the overflow tube can handle.
Bob
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Good comment--already done MLD

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Ball valves are all we install for shut off applications.
I really hate gate valves.
wrote:

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"our shutoff valves have real balls"
Yes, I like ball valves much more than gate, french, globe, or angle valves.
--

Christopher A. Young
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On Wed, 6 Aug 2003, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (mark Ransley) wrote:

Here's one that goes on each toilet: http://www.smarthome.com/7121.html
This attaches to the water main, but needs sensor probes strategically placed to detect flooding: http://www.smarthome.com/7165.html http://www.safehomeproducts.com/SHP/SM/Water_cop.asp http://www.absoluteautomation.com/watercop /
This one has the automatic features that Mark describes: http://www.pmengineer.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/features/BNP__Features__Item/0,2732,80146,00.html
Don <donwiss at panix.com>.
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Was the water heater turned off?
I hope you didn't inadvertently contribute to the cause. If there was a backflow valve and you didn't turn off the water heater circuit breaker there may have been pressure increase due to thermal expansion in the system. I am really taking a wild guess, but if that were a possibility at least it could prevent a future reoccurrence.
When I cut off the main for any length of time I also release the water in the lines by running the water hose and turning on the water faucets for a few minutes. If it makes you feel any better, I too have come home to find a pretty bad leak (mine was under the house where electrolysis ate through the copper - a self-inflicted situation from hitting the ground clamp in the back yard with the lawn mower a few years beforehand).
Best,
Stephen Kurzban
MLD wrote:

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Stephen Kurzban wrote: in part

Stephen. You said 'electrolysis'. Did you mean that because the wire got knocked off the electrical system ground rod there was some sort of corrosion caused by electrical grounding through the water pipe into the ground. Reason I ask is because last year I finally got around to bonding the cold water pipe system to my electrical panel with a direct #4 AWG wire and also to some heavy copper wires buried in the ground (the equivalent of a 50 foot ground rod!). We also have the conventional ground rod and the incoming supply has its neutral grounded out at the pole mounted distribution transformer etc. The cold water pipe has always been grounded indirectly by virtue of the 230 volt AC plus ground from the panel to the 40 US gallon hot water tank! Would welcome any comment advice you have. Terry.
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e-mail sent.
Terry wrote:

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