Did you know that October is Fire Prevention Month? It was first established as National Fire Prevention Week in 1922 to remember the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Over time, it expanded to cover the entire month. Fire prevention awareness is so important! On average, about 358,500 house fires occur each year, with approximately 5,400 of them caused by water heaters. Now, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean water heaters are inherently dangerous. However, we want to highlight the significance of proper maintenance and safety measures to avoid potential issues. 

Join your New Albany Plumbing & Drain family as we provide you with important information on preventing water heater fires. 

Pinpointing the Differences Between Gas and Electric Water Heaters:  

Before we talk about safety tips, let’s discuss the differences between gas and electric water heaters. While they use different energy sources, their operations and internal mechanisms are quite similar. So, let’s focus on understanding their energy sources and how they work. 

Gas Water Heaters: These appliances use natural or propane gas to heat water, which means that gas leaks can potentially release flammable vapor. If this vapor comes into contact with an ignition flame, the chances of a vapor-induced explosion increase. Thankfully, most modern water heater models have a sealed bottom that protects the ignition flame from flammable vapors. However, it’s still a good idea to install a Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector in your home, regardless of the age of your water heater. These hybrid alarms can detect carbon monoxide as well as natural gases like methane and propane. 

Electric Water Heaters: On the other hand, electric water heaters depend on electricity, so it’s important to be vigilant for signs of overheating or electrical fires. (For more information on this particular topic, click here.) There are multiple factors that can cause water heaters to overheat, but if the temperature goes beyond 140ºF, try lowering it. If the problem persists, it’s best to seek professional help. As a general guideline, water heaters should be set between 120ºF and 140ºF.  

Practicing Safety Tips for Water Heater Fire Prevention:  

  • Keep Flammable Materials Away: Avoid keeping flammable materials far away from your water heater and its surroundings. Since water heaters are often located in garages, it’s common to find flammable items stored nearby, such as paint cans, empty gasoline containers, oily rags, household chemicals, cleaning products, cardboard boxes, stacks of paper, wood furniture, and plastic bottles. Also, be cautious when storing items like lawnmowers that require gasoline, as this can pose a significant fire hazard. 
  • Know How to Shut Off the Water Heater: Make sure you know how to turn off your water heater. You never know when you might need this knowledge in an emergency, so being able to act quickly is important. Having the ability to shut off your water heater in advance can be extremely valuable when you need it most. 
  • Clear the Area: Keep the area around your water heater clear of any clutter. Think of it as allowing enough space for proper airflow. Avoid stacking items near or in front of the water heater, as it can block airflow and create a fire hazard. 
  • Schedule an Annual Plumbing Inspection: To keep your plumbing system in good condition, it’s important to schedule an annual inspection with a professional plumber every year. During this comprehensive inspection, various components of your plumbing system will be checked, including pipes, drainage systems, sinks, toilets, showers, water heaters, and other plumbing appliances. This proactive approach helps ensure everything is functioning properly, identifies any potential issues, and prevents them from turning into bigger problems in the future. 

Safety and responsible maintenance of your water heater are extremely important. We prioritize ensuring the safety of you and your family above all else! Give us a call to learn more about our Whole Home Protection Plan. We’ve got you covered when it comes to keeping your home and HVAC system in tip-top shape! 

Stay safe and call New Albany Plumbing & Drain for all your plumbing needs today at (614) 245-3319, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here!