No modern home would be complete without a water heater. These appliances provide heated water to all plumbing fixtures within the home. Maintaining your water heater properly is essential in preserving your access to hot water, but proper maintenance and care can also reduce the risk of a house fire caused by a home's water heater.
This is especially true if you have a gas-fueled water heater. Statistics show that appliances like water heaters are responsible for causing 7% of house fires and 4% of deaths.
You can take action to help reduce the risk of having your water heater spark a fire in your home in the future.
1. Invest in Annual Inspections
It's easy to ignore your water heater until the appliance's performance is compromised. Neglecting your water heater for long periods of time could prove dangerous. One simple way to prevent your water heater from starting a fire in your home is to have a plumber inspect the appliance on an annual basis.
Routine inspections allow your plumber to identify any issues that might be a concern before they get too severe. Potential fire hazards like loose valves and small gas leaks will be spotted by your plumber during an annual inspection and repaired before any damage is done.
2. Clear the Area Around Your Water Heater
Another simple thing you can do to reduce any fire risks associated with your water heater is to remove any items from the immediate area.
The pilot light ignition system in a water heater needs to breathe in order to function efficiently. If proper ventilation isn't present, then heat and excess gas may build up around the water heater. Any combustible materials (like paint, oily rags, or gasoline) near the water heater will become fuel for a fire. Never place combustible items near your water heater.
You should also avoid putting household debris near your water heater. Keep clothing, old boxes, trash, and other debris outside the ventilation radius for your water heater so that you can avoid a potential fire caused by restricted air supply.
3. Learn to Shut Off Your Water Heater
No matter how diligent you may be in protecting your home against a water heater fire, the potential for a sudden malfunction in the water heater always exists. You can reduce the possibility of a fire if you know how to shut your water heater off until repairs can be made.
The first step in an emergency shut-down is to cut off the gas supply to your water heater. This can be done by turning the thermostat to the off position. Next, you should eliminate electrical power by flipping the circuit connected to the water heater. Finally, locate the water supply line and turn the valve to stop the water heater from filling.
Each of these steps is designed to prevent the continued operation of a compromised water heater. An emergency shut-down could help prevent a fire by eliminating all fuel sources that might spark a house fire.
Common sense and some preventative maintenance can be integral in helping you prevent water heater fires from damaging your home. An experienced plumber will be a beneficial ally when it comes to keeping your water heater structurally sound and performing efficiently.
If you haven't had your water heater inspected recently, then reach out to a plumber and ask about their water heater services. You can work with the plumber to identify any safety measures you might need to take to protect your family against the dangers of a house fire caused by a damaged or faulty water heater.