How to Ruin an $800 Water Heater

Prepping your home for a long vacation is a great way to save some dough. You can (and should!) unplug vampire devices and shut off and empty your always-on water heater to shave a few bucks off that month's utility bill (Don't turn off the A/C though). But if you come home and turn your hibernating tech on in the wrong order, you risk doing serious damage to your water heater. Here's what you need to know.

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Your water heater is designed to keep heating and reheating the water in its tank, whether or not anyone is there to actually take a steamy bath. So if you want to be super attentive about wasting resources, it's a good idea to turn off power and water to your water heater before you leave for a long vacation.

But beware, problems can arise when you return home to turn your household systems back on. This Old House has a great feature about disasters that could happen to your house while you're on vacation, leaving us with this gem about re-connecting your water heater:

Many homeowners who are extra vigilant turn off the water and the power to their water heater before they leave, to avoid any risks of floods or fires. But that can spell disaster if you turn things back on in the wrong order; the tank needs to fill with water before you switch on the heater.

If you turn on power to your water heater before it's filled up with water, there's a good chance you'll burn out the element in your water heater, at best. They're not terribly expensive to replace—only $10 or so—but you'll have to wait to take that post-vacay shower. Some cases could do even more damage, so be mindful of how and when you power up your post-vacation home.

via This Old House

(Images: Flickr member Matt Stratton licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member marlb0r0 man licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, and designer based in Atlanta, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She loves her fiance, her dog Bacon, and collecting beer koozies when she travels.

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