How To Prevent A Fire From Your Gas Water Heater

Not too long ago, one of California largest wildfires was traced back to a water heater that ignited. While these instances don't occur every day, this gas appliance can become a fire hazard if not properly maintained. if you want to know how to keep your family and belongings safe, follow these five simple tips for preventing fires from your gas water heater.

Perform Annual Inspections

When everything's working fine, it's easy to overlook the routine care and maintenance of any appliance. But one that runs on gas particularly needs a "well-check" by a professional from a place like R & B Inc Heating & Air Conditioning.

You should have your water heater flushed and inspected every year for any problems, especially those that could lead to a fire such as a gas leak or a faulty flame arrestor. Also, most professionals are able to spot something that could become a problem down the road. And they can give you tips on how to keep it safe from common issues.

Disaster Proof the Appliance

If you happen to live in an area where floods and earthquakes occur, consider permanently affixing the water heater to the wall with several straps. This is commonly done in California and Washington, and it can help prevent the appliance from tipping over and severing the gas lines during a natural disaster. A severed gas line is a huge fire risk.

Most experts now recommend securing a water heater in two places as opposed to just one. Before getting started, hire a professional to replace the copper and metal pipes with flexible connectors that won't break as easily on shaky ground (this also has the added bonus of preventing thieves from attempting to steal your copper lines).

You can purchase strapping kits from most hardware stores. Just be sure there isn't much space between the tank and the wall for maximum protection.  

Keep Flammables Far Away

Have you taken a look at what's near your water heater? This is a good idea because a lot of water heaters are kept in garages: the number one place to store flammables like gasoline, car oil, paint, kerosene heaters, and so on.

If your water heater were to spark for any reason, an oily rag, a bug bomb, or even a can of spray paint nearby could send the area up in flames. Do a thorough walk-through of the space around your water heater and be sure that nothing even remotely flammable is close by.

Remove Clutter

Did you know that your gas water heater needs to breathe? Specifically, the pilot light needs adequate ventilation so that it burns properly. If clutter surrounds your water heater, this could become a problem for two reasons.

First, it may not get the ventilation it needs. For instance, if you were to have a gas leak, objects obstructing the appliance could trap the gas around the water heater, increasing the risk of fire or explosion. And inadequate ventilation could prevent the water heater from working properly at all.

Secondly, if you have a fire that results from a faulty water heater, anything around it can ignite, spreading the fire more quickly throughout your home. So be sure to keep your water heater free and clear of clutter.

Know How to Shut Off the Appliance

For obvious reasons, it's vital that all homeowners and renters alike know how to turn off their water heater should they detect a leak or any other issues. If you're not sure how to do this, it's fairly simple.

There should be a dial or lever on the gas line itself near the thermostat. It's typically located fairly close to the water heater's control box. Twist it to the "off" position. If you're dealing with a lever, the handle will be at a 90-degree angle to the pipe when it's off.

If you continue to smell gas, turn off the main gas meter. The next step is to call the gas company or a technician to find and fix the source of the leak.