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Is It Alright To Turn Off An Electric Hot Water Heater For A Few Weeks At A Time?

I have a vacation home in PA which I visit about 1-2 times a month. I have always turned off the hot water heater when I leave and was recently told that I should leave it on which I have been doing since being told this. I leave the heat on in the house (also electric) with the thermostat set to 55. Is there any reason to leave that hot water heater going when no one is there? I would hate to pay the extra electric if its not necessary. Thanks for any info on this subject.

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  1. Comment by charley1
    September 25, 2009 @ 1:56 am

    If your heater is in an area that is maintained above freezing, then just save some dollars and turn it off.
    Turning it down for weeks at a time is not such a good idea. If hot water is held stagnant below 120°, Legionella can grow in it.
    If the heater is in a below freezing area, either turn it off and drain it, or leave it running normally.

  2. Comment by Anonymous
    September 25, 2009 @ 5:11 am

    go ahead and turn it off

  3. Comment by backyard
    September 25, 2009 @ 5:56 am

    I think that this winter in particular, it is worth it to keep it on. You certainly don’t want to go for a relaxing weekend and have frozen, burst pipes. If you want to research draining all your pipes or putting heat tape on, you may want to try that in future. I don’t know what part of the state you are in, but with wind chills and cold weather, you could be at risk for such a problem.

  4. Comment by Susan M
    September 25, 2009 @ 10:39 am

    Better to just turn it way down. Locate the thrmostat inside an access panel on the side of the tank. It usually operates with a screwdriver b/c the manufacturer doesn’t expect the consumer to fuss with it. It should be marked off in approximate temps.

  5. Comment by dBalcer
    September 25, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

    I’m assuming your water heater is in the basement if you’re in PA. If so, there’s no reason you can’t turn the heater off at the breaker. That’s what my father-in-law always did when they traveled; they lived in PA also. You’re keeping your house at 55 degrees, which should prevent the pipes from freezing.
    If your water heater is in a shed or where it will freeze, then of course you can’t just shut it off without draining everything.

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