I have rental in which the renter shut off the water service, but did not shut off the power to the electric water heater. When I realized what had happened, I immediately turned the water back on at the street. I then went in to check the water heater, which was moaning, groaning, creaking and popping. It had apparently boiled dry. I ran a hot water faucet to refill the tank. It seems to work OK now.

My questions are: Has this happened to anybody else? How detrimental to the water heater is it? Has it likely reduced years off of the service life of the water heater? Could it have resulted in a fire?

I wonder why water utilities don't advise the person requesting the water to be shut off about turning off the water heater?

Thanks for your help....