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Thread: shut off tank when on vacation

  1. #31
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Sure, my emotions get the better of me all the time, but if Caduceus has actual information to share I'd like to see what it is. If that info isn't available on the internet fine, I have multiple medical professionals (one is a research MD/Phd) and multiple PHd biologists in my family, and can get second-hand access to published research that may not be readily via internet sources.

    Without outlining the mechanism by which letting the tank stagnate to room temp it's hard to assign much credibility to a point of view. Simply asserting "you don't know what you're talking about" isn't very illuminating.

    According to the CDC data the prevalence of legionella in the US is over 300,000 reported cases/year reported, which is more than 5x the risk of getting hit by lightning. It's a real public health problem, but the increased risk factors from potable water systems come from tepid-water stagnation, not room temp stagnation. If your normal storage temp is at a lethal level, I don't understand the mechanism by which letting it cool to room temp with no flow carries any significant elevation of risk. If water is stored at only 120F there is a theoretical elevation of risk by the few 10s of hours it spends in the high-growth temperature zone.

    All ad hominem BS aside, I'd really like to know how this works.

  2. #32
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caduceus View Post
    See what I mean...just more smart-ass comments. A simple safety measure that even a child could understand and Mr. MENSA just doesn't get it so he replies with babble. Nice. Real class act, Don.

    Really ?

    Just tell us what needs to be done. I have yet to see you post what should be done.

    Please get Your head out of your ass, so that I can read your mind, and share your expert opinion.


    Have a great Friday also.
    Last edited by DonL; 10-18-2013 at 09:11 AM.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  3. #33
    DIY Senior Member guy48065's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    All ad hominem BS aside, I'd really like to know how this works.
    Same here. My curiosity is piqued. I think most of us agree with the unsubstantiated principals Cad is saying, but that this thread is a mis-application of those principles.
    Nobody is disputing legionella exists, it's bad, it kills when inhaled...but it's not active in my water heater at 140F or at ambient.
    Romeo and Atlanta, MI

  4. #34
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guy48065 View Post
    Nobody is disputing legionella exists, it's bad, it kills when inhaled...but it's not active in my water heater at 140F or at ambient.

    Medicine kills also. I would rather have the problem, than the side affect of medication.

    Doctors are always practicing. What do they know ?

    First thing they ask is "What is wrong with you"

    I pay them to know, not to kill me with their Fix All.


    People are living to long and going Nuts, and we need to Purge...


    If you go to your remote cabin, with your loved one and die from drinking bad water, Then more power to you both. It will not happen unless it is your time, You can not change that.


    Not much hope for the world as we know it. Nothing is safe now a days.


    That includes the GOV and what they say is good for You.
    Last edited by DonL; 10-18-2013 at 10:09 AM.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  5. #35
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guy48065 View Post
    Same here. My curiosity is piqued. I think most of us agree with the unsubstantiated principals Cad is saying, but that this thread is a mis-application of those principles.
    Nobody is disputing legionella exists, it's bad, it kills when inhaled...but it's not active in my water heater at 140F or at ambient.
    I'm more curious to know what temp your tank is averaging when you're away and running on pilot-only. A small amount of legionella introduced before you turned it down and head off takes awhile to die off even at 140F. If the 90% of the time you say you're away the tank is running say, 105-110F there is at least theoretically some risk that a late-innoculation of legionalla might survive, then thrive, a risk much higher than if it were allowed to cool to room temp.

    In the absence of actual evidence that there is an increased risk when a tank normally run at 140F is allowed to stagnate at room temp for weeks/months providing a plausible narrative on how that risk might rise under those circumstances would be useful. The risk is never actually zero in almost ANY scenario (even storage at 140F) but in terms of the magnitude of risk, it varies a lot with the circumstances. The amount of legionella that could actually form over a few days as the temp decays through the active zone from a nearly-sterile 140F to an inactive room-temp would be quite limited- more than would happen were the tank maintained at 120F over the entire week/month/year of no-flow. But it doesn't seem plausible that it's anywhere near the risk of pointing the five-iron skyward on the backswing while taking a shot from in the middle of the par-4 fairway during an active lighting storm. If there were even a single case in the literature of detectable legionella from a potable storage that followed anything like the time-temp profile of letting a 140F tank drop to room temp and dwell there for a substantial length of time I might be convinced. But from the published information on how this stuff actually behaves in potable water systems, I'd be VERY surprised indeed.

    Big vats that are rarely purged and maintained at danger-zone temps like hot-tubs become pretty serious legionella reservoirs. Be sure to hold your breath in the hot tub, eh? Seriously- if you can't smell the chlorine you may not want to soak in the hotel spa. Even though the risk is still small, it's probably several orders of magnitude higher than the room-temp hot water heater scenario.

  6. #36
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I do not think the pilot on a heater will do much good to keep water warm.

    It may keep water from freezing.

    The differential on a gas valve can be as much as 20 degrees.
    I think most electrical controls may be around 10 degrees.

    So even in normal use you could die.

    The new thermostats that I have seen will not let you crank the temp, or you may hurt yourself.


    Just shoot me now.


    P.S.

    Dana, I think your theory is good. It all depends on the water quality.

    NASA may pay you to pee then drink your own urine. Astronauts do it.

    How sick is that ???
    Last edited by DonL; 10-18-2013 at 02:52 PM.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  7. #37
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    I do not think the pilot on a heater will do much good to keep water warm.

    It may keep water from freezing.

    The differential on a gas valve can be as much as 20 degrees.
    I think most electrical controls may be around 10 degrees.

    So even in normal use you could die.

    The new thermostats that I have seen will not let you crank the temp, or you may hurt yourself.


    Just shoot me now.


    P.S.

    Dana, I think your theory is good. It all depends on the water quality.

    NASA may pay you to pee then drink your own urine. Astronauts do it.

    How sick is that ???
    Actual measurements indicate the contrary, especially in temperate or warmer climates. See the graph logging flue temps and hot/cold water temps in the middle of Tom Murphy's blog discussion:

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/...ghts-are-evil/

    OK so this guy isn't a rocket scientist, he's an astrophysicist, but his hands-on lab measurements are no worse than the average HVAC pro. ;-)

  8. #38
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    Actual measurements indicate the contrary, especially in temperate or warmer climates. See the graph logging flue temps and hot/cold water temps in the middle of Tom Murphy's blog discussion:

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/...ghts-are-evil/

    OK so this guy isn't a rocket scientist, he's an astrophysicist, but his hands-on lab measurements are no worse than the average HVAC pro. ;-)

    lol

    That was good.

    To think that all of those BTUs went to heat the water in the tank is a bit funny.


    Being a Rocket Scientist , we do not play with anything hot under 1500 deg F. And the Cold stuff is way below 0.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  9. #39
    Master Plumber Caduceus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    Really ?

    Just tell us what needs to be done. I have yet to see you post what should be done.

    Please get Your head out of your ass, so that I can read your mind, and share your expert opinio


    Have a great Friday also.
    Your head must be up your ass if you didn't read the 6th post in this thread.
    "I could never recommend allowing a water heater to drop below the 120 deg.F. mark for any period of time. If you are gone for just a few days, what is the harm in leaving the tank stay as it is. It is unknown at any time how much legionella bacteria may exist in your public water system at any time. Typically there are low amounts of microrganisms depending on what type of chemicals are being used for water treatment and they have no affect on us because of the low concentration. But don't try to sell yourself into an idea that promotes a lack of safety, err on the side of caution.
    Some may say that they have never gotten sick from their hot water, but may have and not realized it. The symptoms are the same as the flu and may take just as long after exposure to show the symptoms. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to the health risks when exposed. Rarely is ingestion of contaminated water a cause, unless aspirated. It is when taking a shower that it is inhaled with the vapors and settles in the lungs.
    The ideas that water sits in the pipes anyways and that temperatures drop in the tank when cold water is used are geared towards ignoring the core issue of safety with your water system.
    Just flush the pipes when you walk in the door and keep your tank at the normal operating temperature and you won't have to worry about Pasteurizing your tank or chlorinating the piping. "

    Or if you're having trouble with all of the letters and words...."Leave the tank on, it couldn't hurt". That was my reply before the barrage of smart-ass comments. To think you've been shooting your mouth off this whole time and didn't see my first post. You've really shown your arrogance many times in this thread...it's actually quite impressive. Now you can save your money from those ESP classes and spend it on charm school.
    Last edited by Caduceus; 10-19-2013 at 06:16 AM.

  10. #40
    DIY Member ImOld's Avatar
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    I'm, at this very moment, having my septic tank pumped out.

    Too bad I can't get this thread sucked out also.

    Little did I realize, at the beginning when using the descriptive "inane", that this thread would evolve and descend into something suitable for a cesspool.

    Very appropriate for a plumbing forum.

    Carry on.

  11. #41
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImOld View Post
    I'm, at this very moment, having my septic tank pumped out.

    Too bad I can't get this thread sucked out also.

    Little did I realize, at the beginning when using the descriptive "inane", that this thread would evolve and descend into something suitable for a cesspool.

    Very appropriate for a plumbing forum.

    Carry on.

    LOL

    You must be getting old. lol
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  12. #42
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    We all need to be worried, Go to the doctor and get more shots and pills.

    Then see what kills you first.


    Some Old folks like them Microorgasims.


    Have Fun.
    You mean like Lactobacillus Don. Good for the gut if they survive the trip. Not the legionnaires disease mentioned.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  13. #43
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    LOL

    You must be getting old. lol
    Me too; going on 71 and gassier than ever
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  14. #44
    Master Plumber Caduceus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    Sure, my emotions get the better of me all the time, but if Caduceus has actual information to share I'd like to see what it is. If that info isn't available on the internet fine, I have multiple medical professionals (one is a research MD/Phd) and multiple PHd biologists in my family, and can get second-hand access to published research that may not be readily via internet sources.

    Without outlining the mechanism by which letting the tank stagnate to room temp it's hard to assign much credibility to a point of view. Simply asserting "you don't know what you're talking about" isn't very illuminating.

    According to the CDC data the prevalence of legionella in the US is over 300,000 reported cases/year reported, which is more than 5x the risk of getting hit by lightning. It's a real public health problem, but the increased risk factors from potable water systems come from tepid-water stagnation, not room temp stagnation. If your normal storage temp is at a lethal level, I don't understand the mechanism by which letting it cool to room temp with no flow carries any significant elevation of risk. If water is stored at only 120F there is a theoretical elevation of risk by the few 10s of hours it spends in the high-growth temperature zone.

    All ad hominem BS aside, I'd really like to know how this works.
    Maybe if I explained this earlier, though I felt there was no need to, this thread would have stayed cleaner. While I may be a big fan of scientific studies and research, much of the 'human factor' is left out of studies and leaves too many blanks in the data. Not many people know that they exists and science rarely admits that they do. While a laboratory will use their microbiological lab rats (tetrahymena pyriformis) to study ligionalla in a controlled environment, they leave out the thousands of variables that exist in the real world and that is where these empty spaces of information come into play. That's what I have to deal with out in the field at people's homes and businesses. One of the main contributing factors to legionella susceptibility is concentration. Legionella take a little parasitic ride within the vacuole region of microorganisms/protozoa and their goal is to survive and reproduce, just like nature intended. Cities that treat water take samples of water , but with such an immense volume of water spread over such large areas they cannot accurately gauge the number of microorganisms that may be existing in an entire water system. Chlorination and chloramination cannot be in such concentration that the water becomes toxic, so there may be acceptable levels of microbes that exist. It's unreasonable to expect sterile water from the tap. As water systems age and deposits build within them, opportunities for microbes to gather increase. This is just the nature of things. So when the fresh water gets to your home, there will be something in your water, but who knows how much and what? The effects of the treatment to your water will be different by the end user depending on where you live. Somebody who lives a mile from you may have more or less residual chemicals or microbes in their water. Then it gets to the tank. Not everybody's water system in the house will be the same, not all hot water tanks will fire or operate the same. How accurate is the tank's thermostat? How old is it? How much scale is on the bottom (gas and electric tanks kept at 120+ degrees, thick scale deposits will safely harbor bacteria and create odors in the water)? How often is water used by what size of a family that allows fresh water replenishment? Are there dead ended pipes (very common in homes) on the water supplies filled with room temperature water (like a petri dish for bacteria)? Who knows how fast your tank cools and to what temperature compared to the other million homes with different tanks in different parts of their homes? These things can also change repeatedly within the same home numerous times, and sometimes daily. These are just a few of the still hundreds of variable situations that can be found in any home in anywhere USA that are not taken into consideration in lab studies because it would take a lab the size of New York to duplicate every possible home and business scenario for incoming quality to outgoing concentration of vectors. People do things in their homes to their plumbing systems that alter them and change the whole safety dynamic without even realizing it. So the scientific data is great, but when I go into a home it is my responsibility to investigate the things that the laboratories didn't. So what would be the best cover-all rule to follow to protect everybody from the potential hazard of legionella? Keep your tank above 120 deg.F. It's not sure a sure fire cure for the problem, but it is the best and most sensible way to cover as many possible human factors out there. That is why I always recommend leaving the tank on when going on vacation and flush the lines upon return. Simple easy and safe. I'm not in their house to test the tank for operation and test the water. I have found some of the variables mentioned above in homes and some of my HVAC friends have also. Samples sent to labs have confirmed harmful bacteria concentrations existing where all seemed fine at first. I have chlorinated and pasteurized many tanks and homes because of it, and most times the homeowner didn't know there was a problem until somebody (or everybody) got sick and a test was recommended. There's no publicly documented studies on my experiences or the experiences of other plumbers/HVAC technicians to validate what I've told you, but it is all true. The water in Pittsburgh is considered some of the cleanest in the nation among major cities and they just switched from chlorine to chloramine hoping to cover the large distribution area better (chlorine is more affective, but loses potency in larger systems, chloramine is typically a secondary after chlorine, but because it doesn't degrade as quickly it covers a larger area).
    Last edited by Caduceus; 10-19-2013 at 08:51 AM.

  15. #45
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caduceus View Post
    Your head must be up your ass if you didn't read the 6th post in this thread.
    "I could never recommend allowing a water heater to drop below the 120 deg.F. mark for any period of time. If you are gone for just a few days, what is the harm in leaving the tank stay as it is. It is unknown at any time how much legionella bacteria may exist in your public water system at any time. Typically there are low amounts of microrganisms depending on what type of chemicals are being used for water treatment and they have no affect on us because of the low concentration. But don't try to sell yourself into an idea that promotes a lack of safety, err on the side of caution.
    Some may say that they have never gotten sick from their hot water, but may have and not realized it. The symptoms are the same as the flu and may take just as long after exposure to show the symptoms. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to the health risks when exposed. Rarely is ingestion of contaminated water a cause, unless aspirated. It is when taking a shower that it is inhaled with the vapors and settles in the lungs.
    The ideas that water sits in the pipes anyways and that temperatures drop in the tank when cold water is used are geared towards ignoring the core issue of safety with your water system.
    Just flush the pipes when you walk in the door and keep your tank at the normal operating temperature and you won't have to worry about Pasteurizing your tank or chlorinating the piping. "

    Or if you're having trouble with all of the letters and words...."Leave the tank on, it couldn't hurt". That was my reply before the barrage of smart-ass comments. To think you've been shooting your mouth off this whole time and didn't see my first post. You've really shown your arrogance many times in this thread...it's actually quite impressive. Now you can save your money from those ESP classes and spend it on charm school.
    Caduceus, methinks you are a bit too sensitive. You have only 20 posts here at this point in time. Your concern (of getting sick)is genuine, but Don is the furthest guy here from being arrogant. Don and arrogance do not fit together. You seem to show some hubris. I mean this only in the nicest way. First, do no harm.
    Last edited by BobL43; 10-19-2013 at 09:12 AM.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

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