5 Water Heater Safety Tips You Should Know

If you’ve ever taken a shower and enjoyed the warmth of the water trickling down your head, only to experience the frigid rush of the water turning cold after a few minutes – you understand that your water heater is an important component of your home!

Tank water heaters are household/commercial devices that consist of a cylindrical container that keeps water continuously hot for things like those long showers you love, cooking, and laundry. They’re usually found in storage closets or garages of homes and are powered by an energy source like electricity or gas. While water heaters look non-threatening, if a problem is left unattended, it can pose a real danger to both your home and your family.

Just because your water heater is a “part” of your home rather than a boiling pot of water over an open flame like in the olden days, doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain precautions to be aware of. Read the following list of water heater safety tips that you should know.

Make Sure Your Water Heater is Properly Ventilated

Improperly placed vents, vents with drafts, and defunct vents can cause fumes to go inside the home rather than ventilate outdoors. While ventilation is pretty technical, you should at least make sure your water heater vents are free of dips, that they go up and out (rather than up and down), and that they are the same diameter as the tank’s diverter. Vents should also be properly screwed in, especially in areas of your home that are considered earthquake zones.

Routinely Test Your Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve

The temperature/pressure relief valve is designed to keep your water heater from exploding if the temperature or pressure goes higher than a safe limit. As residential valves can be prone to failure, it’s important that you check your valve at least once a year by pulling up on the handle. Water should flow freely, but stop when you release the handle. If there is no water flow or minimal drips, the valve needs replacement. The drain lines should also go down and out, not up. A valve with these faults can result in a catastrophic combustion and the explosion can lead to extensive damage to your home or worse – bodily injury or death to those who live in the house.

Remove Fire Hazards Near Your Water Heater

If you have a tanked water heater that is powered by gas, you should remove anything and everything near the water tank that is combustible. Storing flammable liquids and/or materials near the pilot light is a recipe for disaster. Never store anything like coats, jump ropes, garbage, or canisters of gas anywhere near your water heater. All it takes is one crack in the water heater or a leak of fumes to form a chemical reaction with these combustible materials that results in an explosive catastrophe.

Check the Temperature Settings

Water heaters are specially sized to match the size and heating needs of a house. Improperly sized tanks are more likely to be a danger than properly sized ones because they can reach unsafe temperatures at unsafe pressure levels. If you bought your home from a previous owner who purchased a new water heater that did not originally come with the house, make sure that you get it inspected and approved as the correct size for your home. It is advised that homeowners should never set the water heater’s temperature above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Degrees are typically only available on commercial tanks, so check the temperature on your residential tank with a meat thermometer. Anything above 130 degrees can cause scalding and is a breeding ground for the legionella bacteria. Yikes!

Install a Carbon Monoxide Monitor

As aforementioned, improper water heater ventilation can cause fumes to leak into your home. If your water heater is fueled by gas it is imperative that you install a carbon monoxide monitor in your home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that carbon monoxide poisoning – an odorless and colorless gas – kills 200 people each year and sends another 10,000 people to the hospital. Carbon monoxide is a potential danger with all combustion appliances and should be protected against very seriously.

While this is not an all-inclusive list of precautions to take when it comes to your water heater, it is a good place to start. If you feel like your water heater needs an assessment or maintenance, make sure to call NC Water Heaters for all of your water heater needs. We only use quality materials and complete our work efficiently and readily.