Did you know that October is designated as Fire Prevention Month? What was originally established as a National Fire Prevention Week in 1922 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 has since evolved to encompass the entire month. This is because, on average, approximately 358,500 house fires occur each year, with around 5,400 of them being attributed to water heaters. It is important to note that water heaters are not inherently hazardous, but we want to emphasize that improper practices and neglect of your water heater can lead to significant problems if left unattended. 

Join your Loveland Plumbing & Drain family as we provide expert guidance on crucial water heater fire prevention measures. 

Examining the Risk Factors Between Gas and Electric Water Heaters: 

Before exploring safety tips, let’s examine the differences between gas and electric water heaters. While their energy sources vary, their operational mechanisms and internal workings are remarkably similar. So, which one is safer? While this remains a subject of debate, let’s concentrate on understanding their energy sources and functionality first of all. 

Gas Water Heaters: Gas water heaters utilize natural or propane gas for water heating purposes, which can pose a potential risk of gas leaks and flammable vapor. In the event of a gas leak and if the flammable vapor comes into contact with an ignition flame, the possibility of a vapor-induced explosion is heightened. Fortunately, most modern water heater models are equipped with bottom seals that safeguard the ignition flame against flammable vapors. However, to prioritize safety, it is advisable to install a Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector in your home, regardless of the age of your water heater. These hybrid alarms are capable of detecting carbon monoxide as well as natural gases such as methane and propane. 

Electric Water Heaters: On the flip side, electric water heaters rely on electricity, which necessitates careful monitoring for signs of overheating or electrical fires. For further information on this subject, please click here. Several factors can contribute to water heaters overheating, but if the temperature exceeds 140ºF, it should be lowered. If the problem persists, try calling a licensed plumber for professional assistance. As a general guideline, water heaters should typically be set between 120ºF and 140ºF. 

Safety Tips for Water Heater Fire Prevention:  

  • Keep Flammable Materials Away: Ensure that flammable materials are kept at a safe distance from your water heater and its immediate surroundings. These items include but are not limited to paint cans, empty gasoline containers, oily rags, household chemicals, cleaning products, cardboard boxes, stacks of paper, wood furniture, and plastic bottles to be stored nearby. Moreover, exercise caution when storing items like lawnmowers that require gasoline, as this poses a significant fire hazard when your water heater is situated in the garage. 
  • Know How to Shut Off the Water Heater: If you don’t already know how to turn your water heater off, we highly suggest acquainting yourself with the process of turning off the water heater. While the need for this knowledge may not be immediate, it is crucial in critical situations that demand swift action.  
  • Clear the Area: Maintain an unobstructed space around your water heater. Consider it as providing sufficient “breathing room” for proper airflow. So, it’s a good idea to avoid stacking items near or in front of the water heater, as it can impede airflow and present a significant fire hazard. 
  • Schedule an Annual Plumbing Inspection: Arrange for an annual plumbing inspection conducted by a certified plumber. Thorough plumbing inspections encompass a range of components within your plumbing system, such as pipes, drainage systems, sinks, toilets, showers, water heaters, and other plumbing-related appliances. This proactive measure aids in preserving the optimal functionality of your plumbing system, identifying potential issues and mitigating the risk of them escalating into more significant and hazardous problems down the line. 

Ensuring the safety and responsible maintenance of your water heater remains our top priority. We are committed to safeguarding you and your family at all times. 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 Loveland Plumbing & Drain for all your plumbing needs today at (513) 644-0556, or schedule an appointment now by clicking here