Help Afraid of Burning out water heater elements during water shutdown

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Crassius, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. Crassius

    Crassius New Member

    Oct 2, 2012
    I have bad leaking faucet in the tub of hot water. I need to shut the water off.

    The only water cut off is BEFORE the electric water heater.

    I can turn the water heater off at the panel, but I don't know how it all works, and am afraid I'll burn out the elements.

    The sequence of how things are turned on and off is important I guess.

    Should I..

    1. Turn off the heater at the panel.

    2 Then, shut the valve in front of the heater.

    What happens then... my fear is the water level will go down in the water heater from the leak.

    If so... what sequence and what do I need to be careful about when I turn if back on...

    I guess I would turn the water valve back on first.... but how do I know for sure the water heater is full, before I turn the electricity back on at the panel. Is it automatic? Elements won't come on until there is enough water?

    Hope that makes sense. Any advice much appreciated.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    Turn off the breakers at the panel. For most heaters, that's a double breaker.

    When the water is turned back on, make sure that there is plenty of water coming from the hotside of the faucets. I like to run a tub and make sure it's been dumping plenty of water on the hot side.
    When you are sure that the air has been bled, then you can flip the breakers back on.
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  4. Crassius

    Crassius New Member

    Oct 2, 2012
    Thanks... That make sense. I didn't realize there were two breakers.... but there are two labeled as water heater... I was thinking the labels were wrong ;)
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    The CB for the WH is ganged...both switches are connected together. The two CB are what give the WH 240vac...a single one would only give it 120vac. Almost all residential electric WH are 240vac, unless it's a really small one or possibly one made for a mobile home.

    For the WH to drain and have a problem, the leak has to be below the outlet of the WH. If the WH is on the same floor as the valve you're working on, it could be a problem. If it is say in the basement, and the valve you're working on is upstairs, the WH can't drain (unless it, itself is leaking). But, the absolute safest way that would protect you however your system is layed out is the way Terry described.
  6. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Jul 27, 2011
    I do this almost every week as I travel between two homes.

    Before leaving I turn off the WH breaker then shut off water main to house.

    Upon arriving I turn on the water main, go to kitchen and run hot water for a few minutes to make sure there is no air in the system, then i flip the breaker back on.

    Been doing this for 6 years at both homes almost on a weekly basis with no problems.
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