Storing spare bottles of water is a basic emergency survival requirement, but if the emergency situation lasts for a long time, you might find yourself running out of water. If you can’t get a hold of more bottled water, look to your home’s water heater tank for an extra supply.
The water in a hot water heater tank can be safe to drink in an emergency as long as the tank hasn’t been damaged. However, the water in a hot water tank that is part of a home’s heating system is not safe to drink. These tanks are sometimes called boilers.
Don’t drain anything out of the hot water tank until you’ve turned it off and placed a container under the bottom valve. Open either both the top and bottom valves on the tank or the bottom valve plus a hot water faucet to let a little air into the system; this speeds up the water’s rate of release. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends letting the water run a little at first to clean out the valve, and Inspectapedia notes you should actually clean the valve first.
Do not use the water in the tank if it is cloudy or if it has been exposed to contaminants. Be aware that the stored water might have retained its heat, which means it could be hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Sediment can gather at the bottom of the tank and you should let some of the water drain out twice a year to flush any debris.
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