Many times during a disaster or emergency your water supply may become contaminated or shut off. For those times you can access water stored inside you water heater by following these simple 6 steps.
1. Shut off the water valve
Shut off the valve that leads to the water heater as soon as possible to prevent the water from becoming contaminated. You can also shut off the main water supply if you don’t have a shut-off valve located on your supply line to the hot water tank. The main shut off valve should be located near your water meter.
2. Turn off the heaters gas or electrical supply
Turn off the water heater’s gas or electrical supply to prevent the water heater from running without water. On a gas-fired heater, the gas supply is controlled at the bottom of the tank using a control value. It usually has a knob that indicated on, off or pilot.
3. Let the water cool
Allow some time for the water inside the heater to cool before you attempt to drain. This process ensures you don’t burn yourself when you begin removing the water. You can test if it’s too hot by gently touching the outside of the water tank. You’ll know if it’s too hot.
4. Disconnect the hot water outlet to the fixtures to vent gas
If possible, disconnect the hot water outlet at the top of the tank. There are usually two copper pipes located at the top of your hot water tank. A cold water supply into your tank and a hot water outlet. If you can’t disconnect the hot water outlet, turn on a hot water faucet to ventilate the unit's tank. You can turn on any hot water faucet inside your home. Again, this process allows any byproduct gasses that have accumulated during combustion to be removed.
5. Open the gate valve
5. Open the gate valve (drain valve) at the bottom of the tank and collect the water in a clean storage container. The first few gallons may have rust and sediment. If so, throw it out until clean water starts to drain. Both electric and gas-fired hot water tanks will have drains located at the bottom of the tank.
6. Clean the water and drink
Method 1: Treat the water by adding six drops of liquid bleach for every gallon of water. Stir in the bleach for approximately 10 minutes then let the water stand for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes smell the water, if it stopped smelling like chlorine you can add six drops of bleach. Again, mix for 10 minutes and let it stand for 15 minutes. It's now safe to drink.
Method 2: Treat the water using water purification tablets found inside your emergency kit. Remove one water purification tablet from its packaging and insert it into 1/2 gallon of contaminated water. Stir and mix the solution for at least 10 minutes and allow to stand for 30 minutes before drinking. Use two tablets to treat one gallon of contaminated water.