Winterizing your water heater is a necessary chore if you plan to take a holiday vacation with the family and you live in a cold climate where overnight temperatures routinely drop below the freezing point. If you fail to prepare before going away, you may come home to serious problems requiring expensive repairs.
Before working on your water heater, you need to turn off the water supply and turn the gas off or unplug the heater if it is electric. After turning the gas valve off, make sure the pilot light is out. Turn the knob on the heater control box to OFF.
To drain the tank, locate the drain near the bottom and attach an ordinary garden hose. Direct the water flow down the nearest floor drain or to the outside, if possible. If you cannot use a garden hose, drain the water into a bucket and repeat until the tank is empty. When draining the tank, make sure the air vent on top of the heater is open. It can take up to a half hour to drain all the water out depending on what type of heater you own.
After the tank is empty, open the faucets in the basement, bathrooms and kitchen. You may see some water drain out but the flow should stop. Leave the faucets open
You should purchase a water heater blanket to protect the equipment from cold temperatures while it sits idle. A large piece of insulating material wrapped around the unit and held in place with duct tape can serve as an effective makeshift blanket. You should also protect the pipes leading to the water heater. Wrap insulation around the pipes and secure it with duct tape to keep the pipes from freezing and breaking.
Protecting your water heater while you are away is a great way to extend the lifespan of your equipment. If you follow these tips, you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about dealing with broken water pipes after you return home.
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