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***Question for Plumbers about Hot Water Heater***

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by Easystreet, Oct 2, 2011.

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  1. Easystreet

    Easystreet Well-Known Member

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    Here is a question for those knowledgeable about gas hot water heaters.

    Suppose that a gas hot water heater is in an unheated attic in a northern (i.e. cold) climate. Suppose that the snowbird homeowner goes south for the winter and turns off the water supply to the house, but leaves the gas on so that the gas water heater will keep from freezing up.

    Now suppose that for some reason the tank developed a leak and all (or most) of the water leaked out of the tank but the gas was still on. Is there some type of system built in which will detect the low level or absence of water in the tank and shut off the gas to the tank?

    Thanks,

    Easystreet
     
  2. twoatlow8

    twoatlow8 Member

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    I do not know for sure if the burner will run on an empty tank. However it is a bad idea to leave the burner on with no pressure in the system.

    I would not leave it full of water I would drain it. Think of the cold water supply line in the un heated attic. It WILL freeze even if you are heating the tank.

    I would drain the tank, make a bypass pipe for it, disconnect the main water feed to the house and buy a pump and fill the whole house system with RV anti freeze.

    No worries if you do that.
     
  3. Pull & Mark

    Pull & Mark Well-Known Member

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    On a side note: It is a good idea to drain your hot water heater once a year and flush it out with some fresh water to clear all the sediment that builds up on the bottom of the tank. By draining it every winter as listed above and flushing out the tank you'll add many more years of service to your tanks life. Just add hose to drain at bottom of heater and let it drain outside somewhere. Break em all Jeff
     
  4. Easystreet

    Easystreet Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I do drain a little water from the tank from time to time, but I don't think I want to drain the tank for the winter. It's just more hassle than I want to do...... not only the draining but also the relighting and refilling, etc.

    We just bought this condo this year and it was vacant for a couple of years but the utilities were left on and the tank was lit and nothing froze up. There are only 2 short water lines in the attic and both are wrapped well and haven't frozen up yet in the 12 years since this condo was built.

    I'd rather just leave the gas turned on to the tank to keep the water in there from freezing and then I don't have to fool with draining, relighting, refilling, etc. If the tank springs a leak, then the drain pan should catch the water and drain it down a plastic (pvc) line onto the garage floor where it isn't likely to damage anything. BTW, the water tank and gas furnace are above the garage attic, not the main body of the house.

    I was just wondering if there was any danger from fire or explosion if the tank should spring a leak and not have a water supply to refill it since I do plan to turn off the water when I leave.

    Thanks for the comments. Additional comments are welcome too.

    Easystreet
     
  5. need to shoot more

    need to shoot more Active Member

    Joined:
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    1,227
    OK the best way to winterize it would be to drain water then purge with a Glycol product ( food grade )for the water lines only do not fill the HWH tank with it but just cover the bottom.

    Yes a hot water heater will operate with no water in it due to the water tranfers the heat to the thermostat no water no transfer of heat and the thermostat keeps calling for burner. Now nice toasty hot water with no water in it add a splash of cold water and you have some trouble, throw a hot pan in a sink of water it rumbles right HWH worse like a rocket.

    There is a product that is called a WAGS valve that if it senses water in the pan that the HWH is sitting in it will shut down the cold water supply thinking its a tank leak, not resetable.
    Jim Z
     
  6. Catpower

    Catpower Molon Labe TS Supporters

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    If you use anti freeze make sure it's propylene glycol it's food safe

    The thermostat will shut off the burner after a while, but it will ruin the heater, but if it is leaking it's already shot, but it's probably a better idea to drain it before you leave
     
  7. Frank C

    Frank C Well-Known Member

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    for those draining your hot water heater for purge, if it is electric, make sure the power is OFF to the heater
     
  8. WYBOO WOOD

    WYBOO WOOD Member

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    Easystreet: By all means make provisions to drain the tank and all the water piping in the house. If any water is left in the piping and the heat goes out, you will have frozen pipes and a mess. Have a plumber install drain valves at the low points in the system. Blow the lines out with compressed air as added insurance. Don't forget glycol in the toilet(s)and all drain traps.. You don't say if the house heat is gas or electric. Shut off the gas supply to the water heater.

    Go south and sleep well, with no worries. Dave
     
  9. Remstar311

    Remstar311 Member

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    I know that you said you don't want to drain it, but the piece of mind it brings is well worth the hassle. It is in the attic so it will drain to gravity. You won't have to bucket out a thing. Doesn't get much easier than that.

    Nick
     
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