Thursday, April 19, 2012

Emergency Drinking Water from a Water Heater

A typical home water heater can provide between 30 and 60 or more gallons of clean drinking water during a disaster. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other power outages may prevent you from having many things, but clean drinking water is not one of them.

Edit Steps

  1. 1
    Turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater. You will be draining the clean drinking water from it. If there is power to the tank while it's empty, damage to it will be certain. Turn off the circuit breaker for electric types or close the gas valve for natural gas and propane types. Most electric water heaters in residential applications are 208 / 240 volts, and supplied by a double-pole circuit breaker or two fuses rated at 30 amps.

    This gas valve has the thermostatic control knob facing forward and the "Off - Pilot - On" gas supply knob is located on the top, between the red interlock button the black "push-button" ignitor. Simply rotate the top knob from the "On" to the "Off" position, to stop the flow of gas to the burner.
    This gas valve has the thermostatic control knob facing forward and the "Off - Pilot - On" gas supply knob is located on the top, between the red interlock button the black "push-button" ignitor. Simply rotate the top knob from the "On" to the "Off" position, to stop the flow of gas to the burner.
    A double-pole 30 amp circuit breaker in the "On" position, about to be turned off.  Once off, there is no danger of damaging the heating elements.
    A double-pole 30 amp circuit breaker in the "On" position, about to be turned off. Once off, there is no danger of damaging the heating elements.

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  2. 2
    A ball valve in the "On" position.  Unlike a traditional "gate valve's" handle (that needs to be turned completely several times), a ball valve handle is rotated just a 1/4 turn between full on and off positions. If the older, traditional gate valves were installed instead, bear in mind that the color of the handle does not guarantee an association with the temperature of the water in the pipe.
    A ball valve in the "On" position. Unlike a traditional "gate valve's" handle (that needs to be turned completely several times), a ball valve handle is rotated just a 1/4 turn between full on and off positions. If the older, traditional gate valves were installed instead, bear in mind that the color of the handle does not guarantee an association with the temperature of the water in the pipe.
    Preserve the cleanliness of the water in the tank by closing the supply valve to the tank. When water service is restored, the water department will be pumping water that could be contaminated. This will be fine to use for flushing toilets and for cooking, but not for drinking. See the Tips below for information on determining which one is the supply valve.
  3. 3
    Valve located at the bottom of water heater is used to drain water from the tank.  Threads are provided to connect an ordinary garden hose (or washer supply hose).  The gate valve pictured does not have a traditional handle, but has a slot at the end of the stem where a handle would normally attach.  The slot allows for operation with a screwdriver, or coin.  Work this valve gently, as these valves are seldom used more than once or twice per year under normal service conditions, and could be damaged if forced.
    Valve located at the bottom of water heater is used to drain water from the tank. Threads are provided to connect an ordinary garden hose (or washer supply hose). The gate valve pictured does not have a traditional handle, but has a slot at the end of the stem where a handle would normally attach. The slot allows for operation with a screwdriver, or coin. Work this valve gently, as these valves are seldom used more than once or twice per year under normal service conditions, and could be damaged if forced.
    You ought to seriously consider replacing the original valve with a ball-valve drain assembly. Factory valves, including this one, do not have a straight path and have small orifices. In hard-water areas, those can easily clog with sediment buildup and then no water will flow from the tank. Find the valve at the bottom of the tank for draining when it needs servicing. This is where your clean drinking water will come from. Many water heater valves have a connector for hooking up a garden hose to the drain valve. A short 3 foot length of garden hose will make the collection of the water easier. A washing machine's supply hose is the perfect length and is available in many homes. Connect the hose and open the valve briefly to flush any debris that may have collected in the valve. Make sure the drain, hose, and container are clean before using them.
  4. 4
    Typical lavatory sink.  When either faucet is open, a "sucking" sound may be heard whenever water is drawn from the water heater's drain valve, and is normal.
    Typical lavatory sink. When either faucet is open, a "sucking" sound may be heard whenever water is drawn from the water heater's drain valve, and is normal.
    In order for the water to be drained from the tank you must allow air to get into it. This is easy to do by opening any hot water tap in the building such as the kitchen or bathroom sink.
  5. 5
    Water heaters are notorious for trapping sediments. The "heavier than water" sediment sinks and collects at the bottom of the tank because hot water is drawn from the top of the tank, rather than the bottom. Typical mineral sediment that has settled in the hot water is usually harmless, but if your heater has an aluminum anode, there may be a lot of jelly-like aluminum corrosion byproduct on the tank bottom. If you have sediment in the drinking water let it stand for a period of time to let it settle to the bottom of container.
    • Many people mistakenly believe that the tank is made of glass (or another inert substance). It is not. The inside of the tank will likely be lined with glass to prevent corrosion, since corrosion is the leading cause of water heater failure. There is no danger cooking or consuming water that has been contained in a water heater.

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Edit Tips

  • Always have at least several gallons of drinking water on hand. Increase this amount in anticipation of severe weather. Replace water that has been stored for more than a year or so with clean, fresh water.
  • A "tankless" water heater will not provide this source of drinking water. Tankless systems provide heated water from a coiled pipe located in a furnace. Water that is passed through the coiled pipe is rapidly heated and available for immediate use. There is no storage of the heated water - hence the term "tankless".
  • Before disaster hits, mark which valve is for the water supply. Run some hot water from any sink. Go back to the hot water tank and feel the two pipes attached to it. The supply line will be the colder one. Somehow mark the valve as "supply". This will be the one to close in an emergency so that contaminated water will not go into the tank as you drain the clean drinking water that is stored in it.
  • It is a good idea to flush some water from the bottom of the tank once or twice a year. Sediment can collect on the bottom of the tank. Draining some water under pressure will clean out the sediment.

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Edit Warnings

  • Turn off the power supply to the tank first. Even if there is a power failure you must unplug, turn off the circuit breaker, or close the gas valve first.
  • Allow the tank to fill before restoring power to the water heater. Open the supply valve and wait for the water to run out of the open hot water faucet.
  • Be sure that the water has had time to cool before opening any valves on the water heater!
  • Be sure the water inside the water heater is not soft water. It can contain excess sodium (the harder your water supply is, the more sodium is used to soften it), which is not recommended for those with certain health concerns (such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular or kidney disease). If you don't have a water softener...you're good to use the water inside the heater like normal!

Edit Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight to find the circuit breaker, plug, and valves if it is dark
  • A short water hose to drain the water from the tank. The supply hose for a washing machine is perfect.
  • A screwdriver or coin, to operate the drainage valve
  • A shallow pan that fits under the valve to collect the water in. If you have a short hose you can use cooking pots, clean bucket, empty plastic gallon jugs, & water bottles.
SOURCE:  http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Emergency-Drinking-Water-from-a-Water-Heater



1 comment:

  1. Fantastic and useful weblog. Thanks for publishing this. It’s useful and informative. Keep up the great.
    Water and Gas Valves

    ReplyDelete