Turning off HW heater while on vacation, lower T-stat or just leave pilot on?

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I'm going away for a week and I wanted to put my gas HW heater in "vacation mode". In the past I noticed that even if I turn down the T- stat dial, it still comes on, although the water temp is lower than the usual 140 deg. Am I better off just putting the gas valve to "pilot" instead of "on", that way I know for sure it will stay off?
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I always turn mine to pilot when away for an extended period. I also shut off the main water supply valve to the house as a precaution. Some people will argue that allowing the tank to cool down subjects it to stress and will result in earlier failure, but I've never seen that backed up by an actual data. Also, the temp swing from 130 down to 65 isn't that large compared to other temp changes with a lot of equipment that doesnt' cause failure.
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Yes. Just turn the knob to 'pilot' . A pilot flame uses a very small amount of gas while youre on vacation.
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The tiny bit of heat from the pilot helps keep a small air flow. Holds down humidity, so it doesn't rust out. Or, so I'm told.
Same deal with furnaces. Pilot light models, leave the pilot light on at all times.
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

I seriously doubt that this makes any difference. Turning off the pilot, even for a week, and the water won't even get down to room temp. Even if it does, it shouldn't be an issue. High efficiency water heaters and furnaces shut off the pilot themselves, and they don't have a problem.
I suspect that the burning pilot could create more corrosion problems, as the resulting moisture from the pilot condenses on the cooler metal it can't really heat.
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wrote in message

in the garage and the water is distributed through the attic. We live in Vegas and went away for 4 days so I turned it to the vacation setting.. We went came back, I forgot to turn it back up. We both showered and didn't notice for three days, since there is so much heat in the garage and attic during the summer here. But it's a dry heat <grin> 110 today.
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I always turn it off--why run it---been doing it for years and have never seen any adverse effect. Additionally, I also shut off the house inlet water valve (even for an overnighter). Once OK, but twice shame on me---I experienced a failure (toilet) when away on vacation a few years ago (opened the front door and heard water running); 4 months and $25,000 later the house was back to normal. Two bathrooms completely destroyed and while things were being restored had to wash and shave in the kitchen sink, use the toilet in a downstairs bathroom and shower in an upstairs bathroom for 4 months. What would you rather be---paranoid or sorry? MLD
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MLD wrote:

My alarm system monitors such disaster.
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MLD wrote:

My father twice filled his finished basement with water while he was away on vacation. The neighbors noticed the water pouring out of the little windows near the basement ceiling. You'd think he would have learned the first time.
What I do is turn the water heater down to the lowest setting and turn the water off to the house even if I'm gone for a night. It only takes me less than a minute.
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So here is my theory... Even if you have a pressure regulator on the cold water input to your home, most of these have a back flow prevention....so if you use some hot water, then stop using water, all the spigots are closed. Then when the water heater comes on to re-heat the water, the pressure builds and cannot back flow through the regulator so it just builds and builds. And when you go away on vacation, the cycling on and off of the heater with NO use of water allows the pressure to build more then usual. So I always turn off the water heater when going away for a while just to keep the pressure from being able to build.
The best answer is an expansion tank or pressure relief valve. I'm surprised this pressure build does not cause more problems then it does.
Mark
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John wrote:

Hmmm, Wonder what was basement drain doing? Basement may get wet little bit in such case but water pouring our thru window? I can't fathom such an incident.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

Of the houses I have seen personally, probably less than 1 in 3 had basement drains, unless you count the sump pit and pump. You can only have floor drains if there is some place for water to go, and in much of the country, the sewer exit is halfway up the basement wall.
Having said that, I think these people who turn WH and water supply off for anything short of an extended trip, are deluding themselves. The odds of a catastrophic failure while they are gone are so low, that the additional wear on the valves probably cancels any benefit. Life is too short, etc. Just keep the house in good condition, and don't worry about it.
-- aem sends...
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Are you nuts?? You're worried about the wear and tear of some valves (mine are all ball valves now and have never had to replace any of them) that probably only get exercised several time a year at the most. Low odds or not--how many catastrophic failures are you willing to put up with? Once is enough for me. BTW, how many faucet failures-kitchen, bathroom, etc.--have you experienced and over what time frame between them? Based on your comment, perhaps you ought to leave them on all the time instead of turning them on and off.
With respect to the following comment: "What I do is turn the water heater down to the lowest setting and turn the water off to the house even if I'm gone for a night. It only takes me less than a minute"
Now that is a potential catastrophe in the making. If you have an expansion tank, no problem. If you have a relief valve on your water heater (T&P Valve), no problem (if it works per design intent)--just some water on the floor. If there is no relief valve in the system (or it doesn't work properly) then you have a scenario that can result in a failure of the weakest link in your plumbing system----the water heater, a solder joint washing machine hose etc--. Water is not incompressible. It expands as it's temperature is increased--Example: Auto cooling system: every car today has an overflow tank to catch the coolant that comes out of the radiator as it is heated and expands. Almost all radiator caps are set to crack at 15 psi before they open. Without doing the math, increasing water temperature from room temp to about 140+F can increase the pressure of a closed system (no relief valve/expansion tank) to the 1000+ psi level. That's high enough to start breaking things. If you're interested: Delta P=BM*(Delta V)/V
Where: Delta P is the change in pressure BM=Fluid Bulk Modules Delta V=Change in fluid volume (expansion as it heats up, can be calculated based on change of specific gravity vs temperature V=Volume of fluid in the closed system
Granted, compressibility is not an everyday concern but it is an extremely significant factor in servo systems and can be the difference between a stable or unstable system. MLD
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My neighbor came back from a 4-week vacation with $34,500 damage due to an ice-maker line leak. The damage included furniture, walls, the ceiling below, etc. Now, he turns off the water main before vacation.
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I have a well and electric water heater. I always turn the breakers off when leaving overnight. This means I could get whatever is in the tank and no more water. Moved in this house about 4 years ago.
The other house was fed by a comunity well and a gas water heater. It was built around 1965. The water pipes started getting pin hole leaks about 10 years ago. I had the pipes replaced after patching them about 5 times over a couple of years. After moving and while trying to sell the house I left the water on. Came in after being gone 2 days and found one of the hoses of the washing machine had broken and was leaking very bad. Just lucky it was a house where the washer was in the little room of a carport so there was no real damage done. I then cut off the water and turned the water heater to pilot unless I was at the house.
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Mikepier wrote:

Why don't you turn it to "off" instead of "pilot"?? Cut the main gas feed to it off and kill the power to it, if any. Can't be that hard to light.
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wrote:

Maybe because for the ~10cents worth of gas it isn't worth the trouble.
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Bob wrote:

Maybe running the pilot light is more the 10 cents. At least it was for my old furnace. Turning off the pilot saved me several dollars a month.
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Van Chocstraw wrote:

All of the new gas water heaters I've installed have had a push button piezoelectric igniter as a standard feature.
TDD
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Van Chocstraw wrote:

By doing that, what would be actual saving $$$ for a week? One purpose pilot is on always is to keep the moisture away.
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