Your water heater is one of the most important parts of your home. They’re usually found in storage closets or garages of homes and are powered by an energy source like electricity or gas. Even though water heaters look non-threatening, if a problem is left unattended, it can pose a major threat to your home and your family.
Just because your water heater doesn't use an open flame like they used to, it doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers to be aware of. Here are our tips for maintaining your water heater's safety:
Make Sure The Water Heater Is Properly Ventilated
Vents that are placed incorrectly, vents with drafts and outdated vents can cause fumes to inside your instead of outside. Ventilation is a pretty complicated thing, but you should make sure your water heater's vents are at least free of dips, that they go up and out (not up and down) and that they are the same diameter of the tank's diverter. Also make sure your vents are screwed in nice and tight. If an earthquake hits, you'll be thanking us!
Test Your Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve Regularly
The temperature/pressure release valve keeps your water heater from exploding in the event of the temperature or pressure getting higher than what's safe. Residential valves can often fail, so it's necessary for you to check the valve a few times every year by pulling up on the handle. Water should flow easily and then stop when the handle is released. If you don't notice any water flow (or just a few drips), that means the valve needs to be replaced. A faulty valve can lead to a dangerous combustion and the ensuing explosion could leave to horrible damage or even injury/death.
Get Rid Of Fire Hazards Near Your Water Heater
If your water heater is gas powered, remove all combustible items near the tank. Flammable liquids/materials near the pilot light is a disaster waiting to happen. Also, don't store things like clothes, garbage, canisters or gas nearby. One crack in the water heater or a fume leak will react with these materials and cause a disaster.
Check Temperature Settings
Water heaters are designed 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. Also, don't ever 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 can even breed bacteria.
Get A Carbon Monoxide Monitor
Improper ventilation causes fumes to leak into your home. If your water heater is fueled by gas, you should install a carbon monoxide monitor in your home. Carbon Monoxide kills 200 people each year and sends another 10,000 people to the hospital.
Even though this isn't the total list of precautions to take, we think this is a good starting point for water heater safety. If you think your water heater needs maintenance or an inspection, make sure you give us a call and we'll be happy to come out and help you!