We are leaving town for a month and want to turn off the water to the
hot-water heater. It is natural gas with a pilot light that stays lit
all the time. Can the water be turned off without turning off the gas?
My husband says this is dangerous because the gas will come on when the
water cools down and evaporate it all out and burn the bottom out of the
heater or blow up. Could this happen? Any suggestions?
Neither one of us can re-light the pilot light
1) Does you physical condition prevent you from lighting the pilot? If so,
what about a neighbor?
2) If you don't want to deal with the pilot light, get close to the
temperature knob with a flashlight. Many will have "Vacation" engraved on
them, or some other indication of a level which is just shy of actually
turning the thing completely off.
3) The water heater is a sealed system, not a pot of water on the stove.
Where does your husband think the water will evaporate to? I think you won
on this point, and he owes you a foot massage.
By the way, if the heater is very old and on the verge of failing, that
would bring you back to #1, the pilot light. Get the foot massage first, and
THEN mention this to your husband. :-)
First start by learning how to relight the pilot. Operating equipment other
than the designed way requires an understanding of how the appliance
You do not say if this is for a long period of time nor the temperature
concerns if any.
On the dial of the water heater that should say "pilot". Move the dial to
that setting and then see if the burner comes on. If not you should be able
to shut off the water.
Given information provided.
It's ironic that we are so concerned about the water heater when we
leave the house when there are so many more things that can go wrong.
Two years ago we left for a 4 day minivacation. When we got back we
found the house flooded from a broken fill valve in a commode. Over
10,000 gallons of water had run through the house. The sheetrock was
wet 3' up the walls. The ground was soggy for 20' around the house. The
cleanup & repair bill was $14,000 (thank God for insurance!). So now we
turn the water off at the curb (valve on our side of the meter) if we
are leaving for more than a day or two.
To say the least! It took 10 days of professional size fans &
dehumidifiers to dry the house to where repairs could start. All
because a Fluidmaster plastic fill valve broke in half about an inch
above the bottom of the tank. As I mentioned the problem to quite a few
plumbers, none were surprised. Some said Fluidmaster valve failures are
a large part of their business. With all the hardware stores selling
them I thought they were decent quality. No more for me - all mine are
If there is a humorous note to my problem, we stopped at a casino while
on vacation and I won $250. Of course that had to be the amount of the
insurance deductable! BTW, talking to the city waterworks and showing
them the repair bill resulted in them writing off 1/2 of the water
bill. Not great, but better than nothing.
Went away for a few days---Toilet shut off flapper had a small leak--started
refill process--Fluidmaster shutoff "didn't"--overflow tube handled most of
the water, the rest leaked out of the tank through the lever (handle) hole.
Wiped out two bathrooms, one on top of the other. Professional restoration
company came in. 2 to 3 people for one week of drying everything out,
tearing everything apart-walls, tiled floors, vanities, tiled shower et al.
$23,000 and six months later we were put back together. I must admit
though, despite all the aggravation, we were able to significantly upgrade
both bathrooms and ended up better than we started out. Not that you want
this to happen again but if it does, don't deal with it yourself----call in
a Public Adjuster. Even though it costs, you will end up better off--they
deal with the insurance company and will get a better settlement.
Do both--shut off the water at the main shutoff valve--usually just before
the water meter. Turn off the gas at the water heater. Worry about
lighting it in a month when you get back. As a minimum, open the lowest
faucets and let the water drain out. If you're in a cold weather climate
get some RV Anti-Freeze (Home Depot in Plumbing) and put some in all your
sinks, toilet bowls (after flushing so as to empty the tank), washing
machine and it's drain trap, dishwasher and showers etc. Where ever you
will have standing water.
They could concoct a perfect story, call the gas company, and tell them
their pilot light went out. I don't know about other parts of the country,
but here (Rochester NY), they'll stop by at no charge for that kind of
stuff, especially if you can make yourself sound really clueless. If you
blow up your house, the utility guys have to leave Dunkin' Donuts for longer
than if they just helped you with something small.
If you're going to go to that trouble, you should probably think about
draining the water heater also (since it's a large, unheated tank of
water if you turn off the gas).
Personally, I think it's a better idea to leave the gas turned on, turn
the temperature control to the lowest (or 'vacation') setting, and turn
off the main water valve for the house. If you're really concerned that
the water heater will spring a leak, then it's probably time to replace
it. In any event, 40-50 gallons of water spilling on to a basement floor
isn't usually too much to worry about, unless your basement is developed
and there isn't a drain near to the water heater.
If you live in an area that can reach 20f or so have the water main
shut off by the city and drain everything. Heating equipment breaks when
you need it , this will prevent freezing pipes. An unocupied house is
often denied insurance. Turn off completly the water heater, no the
water wont boil out if you dont, it is just safer. Call your insurance
On Fri, 14 Jan 2005 10:42:20 -0600, email@example.com (m Ransley) wrote:
We are not physically able to lit the pilot light, yes we both know how.
We do turn the water off to washing machine, don't have a dishwasher.
So if I'm reading the reply's correctly we can turn the water off?
I went down and looked, there is no vacation mode, or pilot light only
Temperature is not a problem with pipes freezing.
There should be a valve where the water main comes into the house. Turn it
off there. On the water heater, there should be an arrow that says
higher/lower temperature. Turn it as low as possible. Also if you haven't
used the water main turn off for a while, turn off the water for a few hours
the day before you go just to make sure that valve doesn't leak after being
moved for the first time.
(m Ransley) wrote:
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