On gas water heaters

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A buddy of mine asked this question and since my b-i-l the plumber is traveling this week, I thought I'd ask youse people. His kid is going away over the holidays and wants to turn off the water to the water heater. There is no indication of failure, but he still doesn't entirely trust it. Because it is one where you have to physically relight to pilot using a match or lighter, the kid doesn't want to turn off the pilot. So... any particular reason you shouldn't turn off the water to the heater if you are not also going to turn off the pilot? Thanks.
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wrote:

Yes. If the WH does leak, including via a leaking hot water faucet, and empties, the flame could damage the WH. This is a near certainty with electric WHs, not sure how likely with gas. You don't indicate whether the kid was planning to turn off the inlet, the outlet, or both -- if he doesn't know how to relight a pilot, perhaps he doesn't even know which valve is which. If he closes both and leaves the flame on, I think there's a high likelihood that the pressure relief valve will trip, discharging water wherever it does.
Also won't save any energy.
I believe that most gas WHs have a "pilot" setting, which keeps the pilot lit but does not allow the main flame to ignite. Same as most gas space heaters. May even be required.
If the kid doesn't know how to relight the pilot, he should not fool with the WH. If he doesn't trust the WH, he should call the landlord.
Edward
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The inlet valve. It is on the second floor of the house and he is concerned about it breaking and flooding the house before anyone notices it. It sits in a pan that supposedly drains to the outside, but he doesn't entirely trust that, either. He knows how, it is just sandwiched near the washer in a small area and is really hard to get to. He just doesn't want to.

As I said, energy isn't the concern, it is more flooding.

Owns the house.
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Then turn off the main supply valve from the service line. Probably in a closet somewhere. If he can't find it there should be a ball valve atthe meter as well.
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That's part of my 'going on vacation' ritual - set up the lamp timers, turn down the thermostat, turn off the water.
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Pretty smart ritual.
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How does that help in terms of getting to the water heater to re-light it? Plus, he then has to re-light anything else with a pilot.
Every gas water heater I've ever seen has a pilot light position on the gas control. That gas control knob is a lot easier to get to than to re-light the pilot, so hoperfully he can get to it. If he can't we'd have to wonder how the thing is installed or if there's a ton of crap blocking it.
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On Dec 3, 8:19am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Talking about turning off the water supply, not the gas. He's worried about a leak flooding the house because no one is home to notice it.
Frankly that's unavoidable though a multi-day leak is probably the worst. Most houses are unoccupied for hours at a time. A big leak can cause a lot of damage in a couple hours.
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I'm not so sure I'd turn off the water without turning the water heater to pilot. If he does that then he needs to leave a hot water faucet open to allow for pressure relief and avoid tripping the TPR valve. And then he's relying solely on the final failsafe mechanism in the gas valve to shutoff the gas in the event that the water heater does spring a leak and the water runs out.
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On Fri, 3 Dec 2010 05:50:36 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The pilot will not provide enough heat to cause any pressure/temp relief to open. Leaving it on VACATION should not be a serious issue either if the water is hot when he shuts off the water. To be safe, just crack the highest water tap in the house enough to cause a drip - hot or cold doesn't matter. It won't drip unless the pressure builds, and will not fill the pipes with air which will make them hammer like crazy when the water is turned back on.
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On Dec 3, 2:09pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Who ever said that it did? Not me. I said if he chose to follow the previous posters advice, which was to turn off the main water supply to the house and NOT touch the water heater, then he should make sure to open a hot water faucet.

If it were me, I would never leave a water heater in a mode where it's going to be firing up at all with the water supply turned off.
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On Fri, 3 Dec 2010 11:34:48 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I misread it - I totally missed the "without" - it was time for an afternoon nap!!!

I was just responding to the percieved safety issue raised.
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On Fri, 3 Dec 2010 05:39:14 -0800 (PST), jamesgangnc

Reminds me of a recent discussion here about basement floor drains. Houses on slabs usually don't have them. A buddy had all kinds of damage done to laminate wood floors, carpeting and even drywall when a dishwasher supply came loose when he and his wife were at work. Even a basement floor drain won't help a dishwasher in the kitchen. That and the toilet are the ones with flex fittings and attention should be paid that were done well. I had a washer hose pop in the basement but there was no damage done because the water went down the floor drain. Makes me think I'll just shut off the main next time I go on vacation. Put the water heater on pilot or just shut the gas main too.
--Vic
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wrote:

It can't leak out of a hot water faucet...because there would be no pressure.
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Wouldn't want to damage a leaking WH.

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What I do when leaving for an extended trip..my new (gas) heater (installed this week) has a vacation mode on the dial switch...however I will still turn the dial to the pilot position, this will keep my tank warm (even water) and help eliminate moisture internally which will eventually lead to corrosion. my opinion turn to pilot New tank is cool even has an electric lighter

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Hope it's not "cool"...you need it to work! (and by electric...do you mean piezo?)
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On Wed, 01 Dec 2010 13:02:09 -0500, Edward Reid

The question was not about turning off the HEAT - just the pilot.
Put the control on PILOT and shut off the water - no problem. If the heater leaks it will drown the pilot, but so what?
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Better is closing the water main, leaks can occur anywhere. My neighbor went away 2 days, the toilet on the second floor cracked, Walls and ceilings were canvas on plaster, floors and furniture were ruined. Turning down the water heater might save .50c a day
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My tank has a "vacation" mode, just above pilot.
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