Every home has a water heater. Imagine a home without them; the horrors of showering cold water, running your dishwasher, or doing other essential tasks conjure in mind. That’s why hot water heater systems play an essential role in every household.
However, many homeowners are concerned about water heater safety. They’ve been dabbling about how a hot water heater poses dangers in their homes. Well, their concern is absolutely valid. Because according to the National Fire Protection Association, hot water heaters were responsible for 11 percent of fires started in the past decade.
This percentage is quite alarming and serves as a reminder for us to understand how water heaters are a fire risk.
So, Can a Water Heater Cause Fire?
The short answer is: YES. Water heaters can definitely cause a fire. But this doesn’t mean that water heaters are inherently dangerous; it highlights that improper use and neglect of such systems could lead to more significant problems down the road.
One of the best ways for you to mitigate the problem is by conducting proper maintenance and safety precaution. With this in mind, it’s always wise to think about ways to prevent water heater fires. So, we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide to help you out.
Don’t let your home’s water heater be a source of fire! Read on and learn all the tips and tricks you can do on water heater safety.
Water Heater Fire Risk: Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters
Gas water heaters and electric water heaters differ from each other but their internal mechanisms are quite similar. In fact, there’s a debate whether which kinds of water heaters are safer to install in your home.
Gas water heaters are more likely to cause fires than electric water heaters are. So, should you choose gas water heaters over electric water heaters? Well, there are several pros and cons before making the decision.
Since gas water heaters use natural or propane gas to heat water, leaking flammable vapor might be something you need to be keen about. On the other hand, electric water heaters are more prone to overheating and electrical fires.
For instance, you run the risk of vapor-caused explosion when flammable vapor collects inside the room and comes into contact with the ignition. The good thing is newer gas water heater models are bottom-sealed, protecting any form of contact from the ignition flame.
As for electric water heaters, the only thing you need to worry about is overheating problems. An electric heater would have any ignition flame even if gas leaks from another appliance. For this reason alone, many homeowners prefer electric water heaters.
Water Heater Fire Safety Tips
With all the concerns about explosive vapors and tanks, you’re probably wondering about the things you can do to prevent a disastrous water heater fire. Luckily, we’ve rounded up some tips to decrease the risk of fire or explosion.
Always Have Your Water Heater Checked Annually.
Many people disregard and neglect their water heaters until they encounter any problems or errors. This can be a bad practice that can lead to severe problems in the long run. It always pays to have a professional check and maintain your water heaters annually.
During the thorough inspection, they can determine and solve any problems, be it a small gas leak, a broken ignition, or faulty plumbing. All issues identified can be corrected before it becomes a major fire hazard.
Keep Highly Flammable Substances Away from Your Heater.
This tip might be very simple, but it can spell a huge difference in your home. You should always be wary about hot water heater fire hazards and flammable materials.
Whether you have a gas or electric water heater, you should take every precaution you can to prevent a fire. Are you wondering what types of materials and substances you should put away? Here’s a quick list of the most common combustible items you might have stored near your heater:
- Paint canisters
- Empty Gasoline canisters
- Used Cardboard boxes
- Stacks of paper or fabric
- Old wooden furniture
- Plastic bottles
Avoid making your water heater area an extra storage space, and don’t store any of these items together with your water heater. You should be keen to move these items to another room or get rid of them entirely.
Examine your T&P valve regularly
Proper care and maintenance always do the trick! If you have a tank heater, you’ll want to inspect your T&P (temperature & pressure) valve every two to three months. By doing so, you can ensure that everything is operating in normal condition. Here’s a step-by-step guide to check your valves:
- Locate the T&P valve. If you’re not sure where to find the T&P valve, check the pipes connected to your tank.
- Wear appropriate clothes. You can put on some boots instead of slippers to protect your feet from potentially scalding water.
- Place a bucket under the T&P valve’s discharge tube.
- Flip up the valve switch and hold it for approximately five seconds. If there’s water coming out of the discharge tube, your T&P is working correctly. If you notice that water does come out of the tube, you’ve got a problem. Don’t repair it yourself and call a professional plumber instead.
Make Sure the Area is Well Ventilated.
Every water heater needs proper ventilation for the pilot assembly to burn correctly. Whenever the airflow is cut off by debris and clutter around the water heater, this can lead to the water heater malfunctioning.
Do you have a water heater located in the garage or storage area? Maybe it’s time to reconsider its location on your home. Putting your water heaters in your garage might be a fire hazard. Always want to make sure that the area is well-ventilated so that there is no danger of the fumes combusting and causing a fire.
Need Help? Speak With the Professional Plumbers!
There’s no doubt that water heaters offer daily comfort and convenience in every household. Water heaters are an excellent investment. However, they can also be a great fire hazard without proper maintenance. That’s why it’s essential to ask trusted professionals on how to avoid water heater fire risks.
Here at SPS Plumbing, we offer affordable and reliable water heater installation and replacement services in San Jose. Our team of professional plumbers perform a careful inspection and can diagnose faster. We provide water heater repair services in San Jose and other areas in the South Bay Area and Central Valley. To know more details about our services, you may contact us at 408-622-8183 in the South Bay Area or 209-597-9107 if you are in the Central Valley. Request a service now!