While preparing for any vacation, you likely have a massive to-do list of things you need to accomplish before you can leave. Although packing, laundry, arranging pet care, and cleaning your house might be the most pressing matters, many homeowners are not sure what to do about their water heater. Should you turn off your water heater when on vacation? 

Turning off certain home comfort systems like your HVAC unit and electricity could save you money. However, these rules don’t necessarily apply to your water heater. Understanding the various considerations involved in this question illuminates how best to care for your water heater, especially if you have an older system.

When you notice problems with your water heater, request Pacifica’s trusted water heater repair from Works Plumbing. Our professionals use only the best tools and techniques to address problems with your water supply, heater, and plumbing systems. Call today to schedule our top-rated services or request a free estimate.

Types of Water Heaters

Before answering the question, “Should you turn off your water heater when on vacation?” it’s essential to understand your system. There are many types of water heaters available, and each functions very differently to provide your home with hot water. Knowing which type of heater you have is the first step to deciding what to do about your water heater while on vacation.

Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters provide homes with consistent hot water. These systems cost less to operate than other popular models like electric water heaters. Because these water heaters don’t require electricity to operate, there is no issue getting hot water, even during power outages.

Electric Water Heater

There are many different types of electric water heaters. However, the most common are tank and heat pump heaters. Electric tank heaters provide a steady stream of heated water to your home using electrical power.

Electric heat pump water heaters usually connect with your HVAC system to harness heat from outdoor air and combine it with your water supply. This process heats your water more quickly while using less electricity.

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters provide significant energy savings because they heat water on demand. Despite their cost advantages, though, they lack the same efficiency as other water heaters. It’s not possible to heat water for more than one appliance at a time with tankless systems.

Although they take longer to heat water, their longer lifespan and energy efficiency can make them more cost-effective for many homes. Furthermore, homeowners concerned about the time it will take to heat their water can install multiple tankless heaters to serve their homes.

Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and sustainable alternatives to other models. There are many different types of solar water heaters to adhere to the needs of different climates. 

Furthermore, these water heaters can last up to 15 to 20 years without needing a complete replacement. Because the sun provides power for the system, these heaters can provide homeowners significant monthly energy savings. 

7 Reasons Not To Turn Off Your Water Heater During Vacation

After identifying the type of water heater in your home, you might still be wondering whether or not to turn it off during a vacation. Overall, it’s actually best to keep your hot water heater on when you are away from your home for extended periods of time.

While turning down HVAC systems and limiting electrical use could provide some savings during a vacation, turning off your water heater could cause more harm than good. Consider these seven reasons why turning off your water heater while on vacation is not ideal.

#1: Prevent Frozen Pipes

During the winter months, it’s especially important to keep your hot water heater on when you go on vacation. If you live in a cold climate, keeping your heater on prevents major issues like frozen pipes. 

Frozen pipes can cause serious water damage to your home. The warm water your heater produces will continue circulating your system and prevent the leaks, cracks, and burst pipes that freezing can cause. Leave your water heater on to avoid frozen pipes and accompanying damage to your property.

#2: Avoid Bacterial Growth

Did you know bacteria actually thrives within your water pipes? In fact, your water heater is one of the first lines of defense against major bacterial growth within your plumbing systems.

Most water heaters remain at 120ºF. At this temperature, Legionella bacteria, which thrives in home plumbing systems, cannot grow. However, if you turn off your water heater while on vacation, you might be dealing with some pretty disgusting water when you return home.

Even if you turn your heater back on and reset it to 120ºF, that won’t solve the problem. Legionella only stops growing at temperatures of 120ºF or above. It will take a while for your water heater to return to that point, so you would need to turn the heater up to at least 130ºF and leave it on for several hours before taking that post-travel shower you’ll so desperately want.

#3: Avoid Potential Disrepair

Every so often, restarting your home comfort systems can cause issues. Depending on the age of your hot water heater, turning it off for a while and then restarting it could be problematic.

If you decide to turn your water heater off for vacation, it might be a good idea to test it beforehand. You could try turning it off and on over the course of a day to make sure it won’t cause any problems. Otherwise, it’s best to just leave it on for your time away.

#4: Keep House Sitters Comfortable

During any time away from home, it’s usually wise to get a house sitter or have a neighbor check on your place every few days. In fact, having a house sitter can ward off potential burglars looking for homes without activity.

While bringing your mail inside or feeding pets, your house sitter might require some hot water. Whether they need to take a shower or want to cook, leaving your heater on will ensure the comfort of anyone checking on your home. 

#5: Save Money on Reheating

Depending on the season, reheating your water supply might not actually be too easy. During the coldest months of the year, the reheating process can actually cost more money than expected.

Allowing your water heater to remain running while you’re on vacation will maintain the temperature of your pipes and plumbing system. Not only does this prevent frozen pipes, but it can also save you from a costly reheating process. 

#6: You Won’t Forget To Turn It Back On

After a long day of traveling, you’ll probably want to immediately take a hot shower or a bath. However, if you turned off the hot water heater a week before the trip, you probably won’t remember to put it back on afterward.

Even if you do remember to turn the hot water heater on again, it won’t immediately provide hot water. Most heaters will require at least a few hours to restore the temperature of your water supply. Thus, you could be in for a way more uncomfortable return home by just trying to save a few bucks with a powered-off water heater.

#7: Save Energy With Vacation Mode Instead

An alternative to turning off your heater that could provide some savings is vacation mode. While older models may not have this option, most newer water heaters have a vacation mode.

In vacation mode, a water heater remains on at a slightly lower temperature that requires less energy. This setting allows you some energy savings while also protecting your home from possible issues resulting from your hot water system turning off.

At the end of the day, there’s really no incentive to turn off your water heater for a trip. Unlike other systems in your home, your wallet won’t notice a difference between it remaining on for the duration of your vacation. Enjoy your trip stress-free by keeping the hot water heater on.

Enlist Top-Rated Water Heater Repair Professionals From Works Plumbing

Do you still have questions about what to do with your water heater during vacation? Are you frustrated because your water heater keeps turning off or isn’t working properly? When you experience issues with your water heater or any component of your indoor plumbing, call experts from Works Plumbing. Our wide-ranging services keep homeowners in Pacifica, CA, and the surrounding areas comfortable throughout the year.

At Work Plumbing, we believe that everyone deserves high-quality plumbing services to protect their home. For homeowners with more limited financial means, we offer financing to alleviate the costs of your plumbing services. Explore our special deals and financing options on our website to choose the best plan for you.

So, should you turn off your water heater when on vacation? No, not generally. For more information about water heater maintenance and repairs, call (650) 414-5831 and request a free estimate from Works Plumbing.

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