The electric water heater in my cottage is 24 years old. It is only has
water in it 5 months a year, and is only turned on about 30 days in those 5
months. I replaced the heating element about 5 years ago, and drain it
It is on a well, and probably has lots of sediment in it; I have cleaned
plenty of tiny stones out of the shower head and sink aerator..
I know water heaters only last 10 or 15 years, but is that years of having
water in them, turned on, or what?
On the one hand, I hate to spend money on something that is used so
infrequently, but on the other hand, if it starts to leak, it could be a
week or two before I find out!
Local conditions make a great deal of difference. The same WH in one
area might last 3 years and in another 30. I doubt if anyone has a good
idea on the current condition of yours since it is an unusual situation.
I suggest one of two approaches.
My first choice would be an automated system to shut it off (including
water supply) in the event a leak is detected. My second choice would be to
replace it now.
Since you have a well, maybe it could be possible to shut down the power
to the well whenever you are not going to be around for while. That would
help protect you from extensive damage for any leak. Then make sure that
you have a catch/drain under you WH.
As was mentioned just turn the power off when you are not going to be there.
I would install a simple sediment filter on the water line they are
inexpensive and do save lots of headache with clogged aerators it will also
tell you if you are sucking sand which does happen.
If you figure the actual age is 10-12 that is still pretty good for a
heater. Electric are less bothered by sediment than gas since gas heats
from the bottom and electric from the one and 2 thirds point on the tank!
if you have the $$ I would probably just go ahead and replace it heaters
don't cost much and it would be cheap insurance since if it is like many
cottages the water heater is in the kitchen or bathroom, with no floor
My wife always starts the dishwasher just before we leave, so as to not
waste the remaining hot water, so we kinda need the power. I can't have my
cake and eat it too; maybe turning off the power (or at least the well) is
better than saving a little electricity/hot water.
There are filter on it now, but the water heater is apparently still full of
old debris that no amount of flushing seems to eliminate completely.
Unless you need to heat the home or some other devices in the home, I
suggest truing it all off. That will eliminate any number of possible
electrical problems that could cause a fire. Of course I would not do it
for just a day or two, but for a month I sure would. Of course if you are
not shutting off the WH before she does the dishes, you are not saving
Talk her into running the dishwasher a hour or so before you leave. You
can turn off the power to the WH right before she running the dishwasher.
If you are not truing off the power to the WH, she is not saving anything
anyway. Turning off the power to the home may save you considerably more
than the little saved by running the dishwasher as you leave.
You may want to consider checking with your power company. Some will
offer a savings if you have then shut down the power, but eliminating the
monthly minimal charge.
Why do you think there is debris in the WH?
I'd persuade the wife to run the dishwasher before leaving. Kill the
power to the HWT when she starts it.
When the dishwasher cycle ends, turn off the water feed to the HWT.
I'm not fond of killing power to the pump - you might lose prime.
Drain HWT. Remove the lower heating element. Tape a short length of
garden hose (or whatever will just fit into the heating element port)
on the end of a shopvac hose, insert into HWT and suck it out.
Works quite well.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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