Sometimes emergencies happen with your water heater. They might start to leak, or a digital alarm (if the water heater has one) can start to sound if it starts to fail. You might be in a bit of a panic to silence the alarm or to stop a geyser of water from damaging your property. Step one is, turn off water heater. However, do you know how? Here’s how to turn your water heater off quickly and safely.
Turn off the power source.
This step needs to happen first, so you do not hurt yourself or the heater. If you have an electrical unit, turn off the circuit breaker (it will either be located on your main circuit breaker panel or, less often, near the heater itself). With a gas unit, twist the dial near the thermostat to ‘Off.’
Turn off the water.
Only do this step once you are sure the power is off. Your water heater might have different types of handles. If you see a circular handle, rotate the valve clockwise to close the water connection. It will be connected to the cold water inlet. Once it is fully closed, but not over-tightened, no more water will enter the heater; your sinks and tubs will still have access to cold water, and they will have warm water until the heater is fully drained. If you cannot find the water connection to the heater, you can turn off water to your whole house. The valve will be next to your water meter (which is typically outside the house and near the curb in newer suburbs), and once you open the box, you will need to rotate the valve closest to your house.
Drain your water heater carefully.
At the bottom of the tank, you will see a drain valve where a house can be connected. Connect it and run the other side to your tub, a floor drain, or an outside drain where the hot water will not hurt anyone or your yard. Once the hose is in place, open the drain valve to release water to empty your tank. Emptying your tank is an extra step beyond just turning it off, but you can do it if your digital read-out recommends it or you see a leak from the body of the water heater that you can stop through draining.
Once you have the power and water off, any damage a broken water heater can cause has been minimized, and you can call a technician or start to search for the cause of the problem. However, the tank will still be full of scalding hot water, so drain it carefully and make sure you do not get in contact with the water; even hours after you have powered it down, the temperature will still be hot.
Label your circuit breakers.
Many circuit breakers control multiple things, and sometimes the order of them is not clear. Labeling your breakers ahead of time is the best way to help yourself in the event you ever need to fully shut down your house’s power or power to an appliance quickly. If your circuit breakers were labeled by the previous homeowner, go ahead and test them out for accuracy; thinking that you have cut the power to an appliance or part of your house when you have not is dangerous.
Walk through shutting off your heater before you have to.
Everyone feels a bit of panic when an alarm starts going off, or he or she sees a leak spreading across the floor. If you practice turning off your water heater, you will have come across any quirks or odd steps your heater has ahead of time. If you maintain your water heater by draining it every three to six months, then you will be even more comfortable in the event of an emergency. Also, take care of turning the water back on to your house. Opening the valve too much or too quickly can damage the connection and push something out of place; if you are unfamiliar with it, ask your plumber to show you the correct procedure for your main water valve when they come to take a look at your heater.
Know where your shut-off valves are. Just like with a circuit breaker, this tip applies to more than just your water heater. Knowing how to shut off water to different appliances, as well as how to safely shut off water to your whole house, is incredibly important. You do not want to waste time looking when you get a leak; sometimes the main water valves can be tricky to find.
If you cannot turn your water heater off, or you need an expert to take a look at it, you can contact Waterheaters.com here or call 1(888)393-1772 for emergency service in the tri-state area.