Hot water heaters are about as common in homes as a range or bathroom sink: nearly everybody has one. However, despite the fact that these appliances are so common and often forgotten about, they’re actually a surprisingly dangerous addition to your home. Water heaters present a pretty sizeable fire hazard that many homeowners don’t recognize, especially as they age and the components they depend on start wearing out from years of constant exposure to heat and water. As a result, water heaters cause hundreds of house fires all around the country every year, and even just a few years ago one caused a wildfire in California that burned over 70,000 acres.
Want to avoid having this happen to your home? Here are a few water heater safety tips, including some do’s and don’ts that will help you get the most out of your unit.
Your water heater not only relies on a large amount of electrical current, but has heating elements that warm the water. Both of these factors could present a fire hazard if you leave anything flammable near your water heater. Don’t use your water heater closet as a storage unit, and make sure you keep everything possible at least a good two feet away from your heater to avoid the possibility of anything accidentally making contact with an electrical lead or heating element that could spark and combust.
Water heaters are commonly found in garages or basements along with other storage, so be sure you keep all things like oily rags, flammable liquids, paint or gas cans, and other potentially hazardous or explosive materials as far away from your water heater as possible.
Ventilation is extremely important to your water heater, as it allows the temperature around it to remain at a stable and prevent overheating. However, there are other benefits too, notably if your heater is kept in a garage or basement working space. Garages are often used for changing the oil in the car or filling the lawnmower up with gas, all of which means fumes will enter the atmosphere. Too high of a fume concentration and the heating or electrical elements could spark a dangerous fire. Always make sure there is plenty of airflow through this room.
In an emergency, you’ll need to know how to shut off your water heater so the issue can’t get worse. For example, if you’ve noticed that the electrical connection has been randomly sparking lately or your home has developed a small but dangerous gas leak, you’ll want to know where and how to shut off your water heater and stop the issue from becoming any worse. Some water heaters have easy-access shut-off switches located in a convenient spot, but others don’t have this luxury and require you to go out to your circuit breaker in order to turn it off at the panel. Make sure everyone at your home knows what to do in an emergency to shut off your water heater and you can reduce the risk of a fire catching and damaging your home.
Water heaters have an expected service life of anywhere between eight to 12 years, depending on usage levels, water content, and a few other factors. If you notice signs that your heater is starting to age and might be on its last legs, it’s not worth it to try to salvage those last few days to save money on replacing your heater—in many cases waiting leads to an even bigger problem that damages your home and makes the repair even more expensive. Do the smart thing and replace it at the first sign of its decline and you’ll dramatically reduce your flood or fire risk.
It may seem silly to have your heater inspected when it’s brand new, but having a professional Reading plumber come to your home and inspect your water heater can actually have tremendous benefits. A professional knows what to look for in terms of potential warnings signs of an imminent disaster, and can work quickly to fix them. A water heater inspection is often part of a full-home plumbing maintenance service, which means your whole home will reap the benefits and you won’t have to worry about your water heater potentially sparking a serious fire.Schedule your home plumbing maintenance service today! Call Talarico Plumbing & Heating, Inc. at (610) 624-2177 to request a quote.
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