5 On Your Side

Vacation checklist: Turn off the water

Posted October 6, 2014 6:41 p.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2014 7:58 p.m. EDT

WRAL photographer Tom Normanly went on vacation with his family, and they returned to find water pooled throughout their home. A friend had called with the bad news.

“She said there's water everywhere. ‘Something broke in the bathroom, and there's water all over your house,’” Normanly recalled.

The hose that supplies water to a toilet in the home came loose and sprayed water for two days. Water spread to the back bedrooms, the living room, everywhere.

"The carpet was soaked,” Normanly said. “When you walked on it, it sloshed everywhere"

The family’s new cork kitchen floor was so swollen with water, Normanly said, it was about 6 inches high.

The hose to the toilet was “flailing all over the place, and the water was just shooting everywhere,” he said.

Ryan Oakley is a contractor for Emerg+NC Property Rescuers. He said he gets similar calls about three to five times a week.

“The most common things we see are the supply lines for the washing machine, ice maker supply lines, because they're typically held on by a little plastic nut, and that's under constant pressure,” Oakley said.

An easy fix for anyone headed out of town is to shut off the water.

"It never dawned on me to turn my water off,” Normanly said.

Depending on the age of the home, a whole-house valve could be in a hall closet, near the water heater or just inside the crawl space. If the main valve is on the street, a key is required.

Plumbing experts also recommend checking appliance supply lines for corrosion and changing them every five to seven years with stainless steel braided ones, which typically cost less than $10. That’s much less than the cost of flooding repairs.

"I think between replacing everything and fixing everything and drying everything out, it's going to be near $80,000,” Normanly said.

It’s worth noting that water damage is the second most frequently filed insurance claim in the United States.

The Normanlys spent two months in a hotel and were finally able to move back into their home this past weekend. And they now say whenever they will be away for more than 24 hours, they will turn off their water.