Two appliances that are the most common problem for homeowners who are away for an extended period of time are the furnace and the hot water tank. They both seem to cause problems during the most inconvenient time. Let’s deal with the hot water tank first.
It’s good practice to prepare for the eventual replacement of the tank as it gets older. A typical gas hot water tank lasts 8 – 10 years. Electric tanks average 10 – 15 years. They may last longer but you are on borrowed time. It’s easy to check the age of your unit. For older models, the manufacture date is part of the serial number, whereas newer models have a sticker attached clearly indicating the date. Located on the top portion of the tank, the serial number starts with a letter representing the month. A for example represents January, B is February and so on. The next two numbers indicate the year.
There are often clues to help you understand that your tank may be on its last legs. Rumbling noises, odd smells, tainted water (usually red due to rust), a drop in water temperature, less water due to a build up of setiment inside the tank and of course, the most common sign, water leaking around the base. It’s good practice to drain a few gallons rom the tank each year to drain any accumulated setiment.
Before you leave your home for an extended vaction, set your hot water tank to “vacation mode” or if that is unavailable, turn the temperature down to the lowest level. And turn your main water supply off so that if their is a hot water tank leak, it will not release water under pressure which could turn a minor leak into a disaster.