A faulty water heater can cause serious problems. It feels like we read stories in the news each day about a water heater catching fire, bursting, or leaking carbon monoxide. The damage from such an incident can be considerable. Furthermore, if anyone is near to the water heater when it bursts or catches fire, significant injuries may be had, too. Most homeowners don’t think about it, but water heater safety is crucial. To prevent catastrophe, start with water heater maintenance and services, then educate yourself on critical safety techniques for water heaters.
Water Heater Safety Tips
To prevent property damage or injury, here are a few expert water heater safety tips:
- Temperature – Straight out of the box, your new water heater is likely set to 140 degrees. For most, this is a bit high. It can also cause your water heater to work overtime. It is recommended that you lower the hot water temperature to 120 degrees for the best results. It’s still hot enough to be enjoyable and prevent bacteria but will allow your system to run more efficiently.
- Ventilation – A poorly ventilated water heater can lead to carbon monoxide buildup and fumes drifting into the room. Your water heater should have a vent leading straight up and out of the house. This ventilation pipe should be the same size and diameter of the draft diverter on the system itself.
- Clear the Area – The area around your hot water heater should be kept thoroughly clean. You’ll want to remove any combustibles and debris, keep the area neat, and ensure flammable liquids are kept well away from the pilot light. If you must use any type of flammable material near to the water heater, extinguish the pilot light temporarily. Furthermore, do not wrap insulation around the draft hood of exhaust vent.
- Inspection – Once per year, schedule a plumbing expert to perform a thorough water heater inspection. A plumbing professional will closely examine the system for signs of wear or damage, resolve any troubling issues present, and even increase the overall efficiency of the system. Furthermore, most plumbing companies offer warranties when you schedule a water heater inspection through them.
Temperature or Pressure Relief Valve
A temperature or pressure relief valve is designed to prevent your hot water heater from exploding if temperatures exceed the normal limits. However, most valves are prone to fail. During your annual inspection, have the plumber inspect the relief valve and replace as necessary. Or, you can perform an inspection yourself:
- Pull the handle to ensure water flows freely out and stops when you let go. If nothing happens or you see a slow drip, the pressure relief valve is faulty.
- You can flush the hot water heater through the drain valve to help remove any built-up sediment. Your system should have a drain line, either outside or within 6 inches of the floor, to prevent scalding.