Damage from Leaving Water Heater Off?


Will leaving an electric water heater turned off for extended periods cause the heater any damage?
I have a second water heater serving the upstairs of my house, and I'd like to leave it turned off except when company comes over (once a month or so). The unit is located in unheated attic, but it's adjacent to heated space, and winters are mild here in northern Alabama, so I'm not too worried about freezing.
The thermostats are a pain to get to, and they don't have any "vacation" setting like gas heaters I've seen. Another option is installing a timer to turn it on for a short period each day.
Any thoughts?
Thanks,
Cam
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Turn it off/on at the breaker. Leaving it off and using it 1/mo should not be any problem.
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Cam wrote:

I'd turn it off. I don't know of any downside.
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No harm in turning it off; I do it all the time at my cottage. You don't want to do it at your breaker; they (usually) aren't designed to be switches.
I ran the circuit to an accessible spot and put a switch on it; might not be appropriate for your first electrical work though. Turns out it had inadequate wire on it, so I might have prevented a fire in the process! If I had it to do over again I would have used a relay, but I didn't know about relays then.
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Many electric companies and water heater OEM's reccomend turning heater off at the breaker to save cost. It is perfectly okay to turn a circuit off at the breaker.....thats what its for...........
Ex: To work on a circuit.......you turn the breaker off..............if your breaker does not like this on/off stuff......replace the breaker.
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avid_hiker wrote:

Not all breakers are meant to act as switches.
Of those that are, some are meant for resistive loads only, while some are rated for inductive loads as well.
Chris
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Chris Friesen wrote:

well look at it this way breakers arent generally expensive and pretty easy to replace. so rather than rewire and install switch try using breaker, if it causes trouble then replace the breaker and install switch.
to be safe buy a spare breaker and keep on hand in case its needed.
cost what 25 bucks? Thats what a buddies cost although his was hard to find.
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The utility companies recommend turning loads off at the breaker panel. What is wrong with that practice?
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Most breakers are not made to be used as switches and to be switched off and on very often. The power company recommendations are probably for people that turn the breakers off and on a few times a year.
I would not want to turn them off and on every day, but I don't see any problem with switching them once every month or two.
Where I work (very large factory, about 40 acers under roof) it was decided a few years ago to cut off lights in areas that are not used at nights or weekends. All that was there was breakers for the lights. We had to install switches for the lights instead of just using the breakers.
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Hi Ralph,
That is my understanding as well. The following breaker is an example of one that is UL approved for frequent switching:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Cheers, Paul
On Wed, 06 Dec 2006 19:18:04 GMT, "Ralph Mowery"

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Well if the heater is already off, like water at temp then switching the breaker doesnt matter.
So avoid switching breaker off immediately after drawing hot water so that event will be no load.
Thus the ONLY time the breaker will see a load on trip will be when theres a tank of cold water and the breaker is first turned on.
Once or twice a month shouldnt be a problem........
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I've got a little farm house here in Texas that we visit once or twice a month. We've had an electric water heater there for over six years. I wired it through a heavy duty switch, (30 amp). Every time we come there we switch it on and then when we leave we switch it off. Real convenient. Water heater and switch from Lowes. We do turn the water off at the meter when we leave, just in case of a leak.
It should work for you
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breakers are excellent switches, dont worry about it...........
If the water sits for a long time I would flush the lines let them run espically the hot so its not stagnant and possibly contaminated or unhealthy
flush before guests arrive
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*EXCELLENT* advice. Our old house sat empty for 9 months after we had moved, trying to sell it. I turned the W/H off at the breaker. No reason to heat water in a house that's not being lived in. Well, in case anyone hasn't noticed, the real estate market sucks right now.....so we had to break down and rent the house. I went over to bring the house back up, check things, turn the heat on, etc.
I thought flushing all the plumbing would be a good idea. Hooked a hose to the W/H and flushed it out with fresh water. The water that came out stunk bad! Yuck! Definitely flush a W/H that has been idle!!!

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breakers are excellent switches, dont worry about it...........
If the water sits for a long time I would flush the lines let them run espically the hot so its not stagnant and possibly contaminated or unhealthy
flush before guests arrive
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wrote:

In that case, flush it before you turn the heater back on. Once you heat the water, there is no way to flush it without wasting the electricity you used.
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mm spake thus:

I thought the electricity comes out with the water, and you can just catch the water in a container and then hire one of those firms that separates the electricity from the water and puts it back into the wires ...
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