This Is our Village

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seasonal Water Shut Off

The Seasonal Condo Closing Checklist is not clear on item #19:

19. Close main water valve, use best way for your area.

Can someone tell me if a CV Condo owner has the right to shut off his own water at the outside meter when leaving for the summer? Or does the Palm Beach County Water Utility Department have to be called in to do the task?

Thank you in advance for your response.


  1. Its not clear because there are many differences between buildings. Check with your president. If the only main off is the PBCWUD meter switch, then PBCWUD will tell you only they can turn that off. They agressively pursue the $35 they get for the subsequent turn on. We have had various errors with the turn on, inconvenient timing, turning it off again too rapidly when the meter moves a little to refill evaporation in toilet tank, etc. hard on the frail and handicapped. Do make sure your stop valves under the toilets and sinks and basins are working well and are off. I think Dom has written a book on the variables.

  2. Do not think you can do what I call a 'one-way trip'. If PBCWUD turns off their/your main water valve, and you decide to turn it back on yourself to avoid the $35, PBCWUD will catch you, they are alerted to water running and assume someone is stealing water, they send out a worker to turn off your water and padlock the valve. They do not knock on the door, suddenly you are waterless.

  3. In my recent experience, if a person calls the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Dept (PBCWUD) to turn off their water, they padlock the valve in the closed position when they do this. The only way then to get the water turned back on is to call the PBCWUD to do this, and, as Elaine says, they charge $35 for the turn-on.

    PBCWUD will turn the valves on/off only Monday thru Friday, and they request notice of one business day to do this. Returning snowbirds should keep this in mind. If returning, say on a Sunday, PBCWUD should be called on THURSDAY--if not sooner.

    When turning the water back on, if the PBCWUD employee notices from the meter that water is being used, and if nobody is home, this is strong indication of a leak, and he may leave the water turned OFF, with a note explaining why.

    For this reason, it seems to me it would be a good idea for the snowbird to have someone trustworthy check to be sure the water did get turned on as requested. Best would probably be to check all water devices inside the apartment.

  4. Its a pity PBCWUD does not give people Lanny's info on possible problems when they first call. Its no fun being the trusted leakchecker who has to reach travelers to tell them their $35 got them a ticket on the door, and no water because the meter twitched, despite no leak. The travelers can be very confused and angry, logic notwithstanding. No good deed goes unpunished, (twice) it has been my job to figure things out afterwards. That is good timing info thanks Lanny.

  5. One of our neighbors left to go
    north and called me because he
    forgot to turn off his water and
    ask me to do it for him. We did
    turn off his water with no

  6. To get back to the original question, is it legal for the homeowner to turn off the water at the meter: If the valve is on the street side of the meter (which most are), I understand it is not legal and there are penalties that can be levied. It is therefore best in my opinion to have the water company do the shutting off and turning on for snowbirds, and have them pay the $35 for the turn-on.

    But what do you do when you have a leak in a pipe with water under pressure, and there is no shutoff valve in the apartment to stop the flow of water? You shut it off outside at the meter, of course, and worry about the consequences later.

    And what does a person do who leaves several times during the year for a week or two? I’m sure he won’t want to be paying $35 several times in one year. Well, if he has had the old, often “frozen” valves under the sinks and toilets replaced so that these valves are safe to turn off, he can turn these off and be fairly safe. He can be a little safer yet if he has had the old valve for the water heater replaced and relocated to where it’s accessible. Then about all he’s got to worry about are the pipes inside the walls to the tub-shower and to these valves. Chances are they’ll be okay, but nothing is guaranteed.

    Or he can spend about $300 to have a shutoff to the whole apartment installed in a pit beside the pit with the meter (on the apartment side of the meter pit) and legally turn off the water to the whole apartment there.

    Or he can risk being illegal and turn the water off himself at the meter. A good many do this. The water company is not running around suing the people who do this. But you never know, do you? Certainly if you break the water company’s valve at the meter, it would be wise to be very contrite and offer to pay for the repair.

    That’s how I see the situation. There may be more to this than I know, though. What do I do myself? Wouldn’t you like to know!!


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