Your water heater is one of those appliances that you don’t think about until you have no hot water or you have a 60-gallon flood in your basement!
Like all appliances, your hot water heater needs some TLC once in a while. In this article, we will look at some of the potential areas of concern for you to include in your annual water heater checkup. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself call a licensed plumber in your neighborhood. Ask yourself: What kind of hot water heater do you have? Is it electric or gas? Pay attention to the tips that are pertaining to your type of water heater.
Your gas water heater is vented so that fumes and carbon monoxide outside instead of back into your home. Your number one job is to make sure that you maintain good ventilation by ensuring that:
- The vent is the same diameter as the tank’s draft diverter
- The vent goes straight up and out, without any dips. (Dips create back drafts)
- Where it passes through walls or roofs, it is double-walled to prevent anything from getting too hot and catching fire.
- Do you have any single-walled vent sections? make sure they are screwed with 3 screws per section.
- Make sure all vent connections are tight and secure.
Temperature or pressure relief valve
What does this do? This valve helps prevent your tank from exploding if it gets too hot or too much pressure builds up inside. Your job is to check these to make sure they are working properly.
- Pulling up on the handle to make sure water flows freely out, and stops when you let go of the handle. Is there any problem? If it doesn’t work or it drips then replace the valve immediately.
- Sediment can rust your tank bottom. So flush the hot water heater through the drain valve as part of your annual checkup to remove sediment buildup.
How hot should your hot water be set for? We are looking for the sweet spot of about 130 degrees.
- More than 130 and you can get scalded.
- Less than 120 and you could cause Legionella bacteria can grow and you could catch Legionnaire’s disease when you take a shower.
- Use a cooking thermometer at your faucet to see how it the water is and adjust accordingly.
Do you live in an earthquake zone? Then strap your tank so it doesn’t fall over. If you don’t live in an earthquake zone strap it anyway! Remember:
- Gas water heaters could explode if a gas line is severed.
- Electrical water heaters could be lying in water and pose an electrocution hazard.
Final water heater safety tips
- Keep the area around your water heater clean. If it is in a closet don’t store anything in there. Paper, dust, and other combustibles are fire magnets.
- Do you need to set off a bug bomb in your house? If you have a gas heater be sure to shut the pilot off!
- If you ever smell gas shut off the main, get out of the house and call 911.
- Do you have a gas heater? Install a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the tank.
- If the device is in the garage, raise it so the pilot light is 18 inches above the floor. This helps prevent ignition of gasoline vapors that collect near the floor.
- Invest $300 in an automatic gas shutoff valve which shuts the gas off in the case of an earthquake or if gas flow increases dramatically.
- Never turn your hot water heater on if there is no water in the tank. You will Burn out the electric heating element.
- Only allow a licensed electrical contractor to wire up your hot water heater. Remember loose connections cause fires. They will also tell you if your wiring is suitable to upgrade your existing tank to a larger model. Make sure the unit is powered by the correct wire size and circuit breaker size. Improper wiring accounts for many electrical house fires. The god news is that when you update your home’s wiring to the latest electrical codes you are rewarded by your insurance company with a homeowners discount on your premium.
- Put fresh batteries in your smoke detector annually!
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Install a water leak detection sensor to shut off the water in case of a leak. remember that water leak detection is the key to preventing water damage and mold.
We hope you found these hot water tank safety tips helpful. Remember that regular proper maintenance is the key to a safe health home and lower homeowners rates. If you have any questions about your policy please contact us at insurancehub.com today.