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Can it still leak?

sjay
sjay Member Posts: 15
My sister's cheap old south florida 2nd. floor condo is vacant 9 months a year.When she leaves,water supply and power to electric water heater tank are shut off.Can it still develop a leak while she is gone?

Comments

  • BBros
    BBros Member Posts: 41
    Yes. It can leak it's entire contents, just like an aquarium... the only way to prevent leaks is to remove all water from the tank (house).
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    If the water heater is not drained and it's holding water, there is always the risk that that water can leak out. Is it sitting in a drain pan, running over to a floor drain? If so, and the drain pipe is not clogged, leaks are usually slow enough that it should drain.
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    Years ago a plumber friend(wish he was still around)told me that leaving used tank empty of water accelerates rusting greatly,in fact most of the time when empty tanks were refilled they started leaking within a couple of days. And no there is no drain pan and no drain line in the floor,guess she's just going to have to keep taking her chances.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    Washing machines are notorious for flooding houses when the main water supply is shut off.
    sjaydelta T
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    If the water supply to washer is shut off where does flood water come from?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,328
    edited December 2016
    sjay said:

    If the water supply to washer is shut off where does flood water come from?

    The rest of the plumbing in the house. You'd be surprised how much water there is, and if the washer is on the lower floor...

    A lot of times the shutoff valves for the washer don't get closed (if they even exist) -- just the washer solenoids.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    delta T
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15


    Water Heater Repair, Maintenance and Troubleshooting Q&A

    Be sure to scroll down... there may be more than one question on this page!
    Dear NH,
    Is it okay to my drain water heater and shut off gas to it if the house is going to vacant for 4-5 months? I am always afraid of water leaks.
    JG

    JG,

    Most people just turn the water off unless they are concerned with freezing. Then you should drain down the entire system. However, there is a potential problem with draining down the water heater for a long period of time that you might want to consider... rust!

    Water heaters are made from steel, which can rust. Even though modern heaters are lined with a non-corrosive glass-like ceramic. However, this is not 100% effective because it is impossible to coat 100% of the tank and the material is prone to cracking during transportation and installation.

    The rust is stopped by the use of a sacrificial anode, a long rod of magnesium, aluminum or zinc that is put into the top of the tank and extends a few feet into the water. These materials dissolve away more quickly than steel through a electrochemical reaction (like a common car battery) and the steel is not affected as long as the anode lasts.

    Here is the problem. Draining the water stops the sparing action of the anode and exposes the steel to the water vapor left in the closed tank. This can cause increased rust and may decrease the life of the tank.

    Though it is not unheard of for leaks to occur in the owner's absence, they are minimized if you turn off the water to the whole house when you leave so there is no pressure in the system. Of course, if a visual inspection of your water heater shows evidence of corrosion or leaks anywhere, you should have it checked BEFORE you hit the road!
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    no i wouldn't be surprised Jaimie because the number one rule when you shutoff water to house,condo etc. is to open 1 or 2 faucets to drain all the remaining water in the lines.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    You disagree? Now why would I say that? Other than to offer you some advice. Best Wishes, and Happy Snorkeling!
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    Paul you never answered my question right below your first post "if the water supply to washer is shut off where does flood water come from"? the disagree button i pushed by mistake
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    Usually it happens when the main shut off leaks, even a dribble.Folks will shut off the main, and bleed the pressure off at a faucet, then close the faucet. The washer solenoid requires the pressure to close tightly, so as they head out the door, the thing has already started leaking.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,328
    sjay said:

    no i wouldn't be surprised Jaimie because the number one rule when you shutoff water to house,condo etc. is to open 1 or 2 faucets to drain all the remaining water in the lines.

    Yeah. You know that, and I know that, and I daresay the rest of the Wallies do too. But Joe Sixpack? Maybe not... :)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    if you shut the main valve off, and drain off the pressure, little if any water will come out of the tank. It needs to get air into the tank for water to come out.

    One of the oldest plumbers trick involves changing electric elements without draining the tank.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    delta T
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    @sjay , Your question was if the water valve was shut off, can the water heater still leak? The answer is still "yes" it can still leak. She may wish to take her chances, and that's her prerogitive, but that doesn't show much regard for the condo owner below her and it may end in an insurance claim for both her condo and for her neighbor below. Or maybe just some legal action. Personally, if I were to leave for months at a time, I'd err on the side of caution but my water heater is in a basement, with floor drains and I don't have to be concerned about a neighbor who had no say in my decision. I'm considerate that way.
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    Fred said:

    @sjay , Your question was if the water valve was shut off, can the water heater still leak? The answer is still "yes" it can still leak. She may wish to take her chances, and that's her prerogitive, but that doesn't show much regard for the condo owner below her and it may end in an insurance claim for both her condo and for her neighbor below. Or maybe just some legal action. Personally, if I were to leave for months at a time, I'd err on the side of caution but my water heater is in a basement, with floor drains and I don't have to be concerned about a neighbor who had no say in my decision. I'm considerate that way.

    ok Fred so what would you do(err on the side of caution is very vague doesn't really tell me anything)
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    hot rod said:

    if you shut the main valve off, and drain off the pressure, little if any water will come out of the tank. It needs to get air into the tank for water to come out.

    One of the oldest plumbers trick involves changing electric elements without draining the tank.

    Thanks Hot rod ,good info,good advice.After pressure is drained should faucets be left opened or closed?Also by changing element do you mean taking it out and putting element back in when reopening water valve upon her return?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    My suggestion would be to turn of water main to the condo, open some H&C faucets to bleed off pressure, then close them back off.

    I'd be surprised if there isn't a drain pan under the tank in a condo project?

    I would not drain the tank completely, You run the risk of some one dry firing the tank.

    It comes down to how much protection you feel is enough. No harm in turning off the water supply, assuming there is not fire protection or lawn sprinklers connected.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    Paul48 said:

    Usually it happens when the main shut off leaks, even a dribble.Folks will shut off the main, and bleed the pressure off at a faucet, then close the faucet. The washer solenoid requires the pressure to close tightly, so as they head out the door, the thing has already started leaking.

    ok,so wouldn't leaving the bathtub faucet OPEN divert any possible dripping leak to the bathtub?
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    Sure........The best thing would be to make sure the water is off. Check for movement on the meter. If the water's off, pressure is drained, and there's a pan under the water heater, it should be fine.
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    sjay said:

    hot rod said:

    if you shut the main valve off, and drain off the pressure, little if any water will come out of the tank. It needs to get air into the tank for water to come out.

    One of the oldest plumbers trick involves changing electric elements without draining the tank.

    Thanks Hot rod ,good info,good advice.After pressure is drained should faucets be left opened or closed?Also by changing element do you mean taking it out and putting element back in when reopening water valve upon her return?
    ok Paul thanks,but still don't understand what you mean about changing element when is it taken out when put back in,remember condo is empty for 9 months.
  • sjay
    sjay Member Posts: 15
    Paul48 said:

    Sure........The best thing would be to make sure the water is off. Check for movement on the meter. If the water's off, pressure is drained, and there's a pan under the water heater, it should be fine.

    Well Paul looks you disregarded my first response where i stated there was no drain pan if there was i wouldn't be having this conversation,and no there is no floor drain(as in Old condo)also mentioned in opening tread,also how could you possibly drain lines if water is not turned off,like the lines would never stop draining|||
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    Well sjay, I didn't disregard your posting about the pan. I chose to ignore it, as it is silly. It costs money to own 2 houses. She may have to put a pan in with a pump(as in solution for Old condo). Evidently your reading comprehension is not what it should be either. Notice, now, that I said drain the pressure. Now....if you tie that into my previous post about the possibility of a tiny leak, watching a leak detector on a meter might make more sense.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    sjay said:

    Fred said:

    @sjay , Your question was if the water valve was shut off, can the water heater still leak? The answer is still "yes" it can still leak. She may wish to take her chances, and that's her prerogitive, but that doesn't show much regard for the condo owner below her and it may end in an insurance claim for both her condo and for her neighbor below. Or maybe just some legal action. Personally, if I were to leave for months at a time, I'd err on the side of caution but my water heater is in a basement, with floor drains and I don't have to be concerned about a neighbor who had no say in my decision. I'm considerate that way.

    ok Fred so what would you do(err on the side of caution is very vague doesn't really tell me anything)
    @sjay , I would do one of two things. Either would work. 1. Turn the water off and drain the water heater. A second floor condo that is vacant for 9 months is just to much risk to leave 30 or more gallons of water above another condo, unattended.
    Or 2. Like @Paul48 says, put a pan with a pump in.
    None of us are trying to be difficult. We are simply trying to answer the question you posted. Any appliance that holds relatively large amounts of water and are left unattended for extended periods, are a risk, especially those that are on a second floor.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    Is this something you sister is willing or able to do? Old water heaters sometimes need some intervention to get them to drain. Years of deposits in the bottom can plug the drain valve and sometimes the valves fail to reseal.

    How old is the tank? Perhaps a new tank with a drain pan and proper leak protection would offer better piece of mind?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    If that water heater valve has not been operated for a long time it probably wont seal up very well. After draining the tank I'd put one of these hose caps on it to be sure it's sealed.

    http://www.midlandhardware.com/165744.html?gclid=CMeXxOKbldECFcWKswodPu0IvA

    That tank really should have a tray under it.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
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