It might not seem like something as basic as turning off a water heater would be difficult. Many homeowners find themselves scratching their heads when trying to figure out what valves to turn! And because it varies based on whether your system is gas or electric, it can take a few extra steps to make sure everything is shut down completely. Here are easy instructions to turn off both gas and electric water heaters to make sure you do it properly.

When You Should Turn Off Your Water Heater

The only time you need to turn off your water heater is when you have a leak. This can happen for many reasons from age and rust to a malfunction with the valve. As soon as you realize your water heater is leaking, you should turn off the water supply until someone can come and have a look to determine what is causing the leak. They will make repairs or suggest a replacement if the tank can’t be repaired. Some people think they need to turn off their water heater before they go away, but it is not necessary.

First, when you turn your water heater off completely you will return home to find you have no hot water. Second, you can also add wear and tear to your water heater from the effort required to shut down, turn back on and then heat an entire tank of water. It makes more sense to either lower the temperature to about 50 degrees F or to set your water heater to VAC for “Vacation Mode”. Most new models provide this handy setting.

For Gas Water Heaters

Find Your Water Heater

If you aren’t sure where your water heater is located, they are usually in the basement, a utility closet, or sometimes in the garage or attic.

Find the Temperature Dial

For gas water heaters, you’ll need to look for the temperature dial which is usually at the front on the bottom. Turn the dial off.

Find the Plumbing Line

The plumbing line is either at the top or bottom of your water heater. Once you turn the valve off, you have successfully cut off the water supply.

Draining the Heater

If your intent is to drain the heater, you’ll need a hose hook up to the boiler drain. You can then put the hose outside to let the water drain into your yard, or you can use a bucket. However, a bucket might not be big enough depending on how much water is in your tank.

Locate the Gas Supply Valve

The valve tends to be on the right side of the water heater. To shut off the gas you either have a lever or a knob. If it is a lever turn it perpendicular. For knobs turn it clockwise.