WATER HEATER SAFETY TIPS
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Water Heater Safety Tips to Avoid Corrosion, Fires and Explosions

Your water heater may remain unseen, hidden in a utility closet or sitting alone in a basement, but keep in mind that it needs regular maintenance for safety reasons. To make sure yours is safe, get to know its parts and learn some important facts.

Water heater parts

Most residential tanks hold 40 to 60 gallons and have to be able to hold the pressure of a residential water system, which typically runs at 50 to 100 pounds per square inch (psi). Steel tanks are tested to handle 300 psi and normally have a bonded glass liner to keep rust out of the water, as well as insulation surrounding the tank. Other water heater parts include:

Temperature or pressure relief valve

A temperature or pressure relief valve helps prevent a tank from exploding if temperature or pressure exceeds safe limits. Unfortunately, residential valves are somewhat prone to failure. As part of your annual water heater care, test this valve by:

Temperature control

On residential tanks, the settings are normally warm, hot, very hot or something similar. There is so much variation on what these settings mean, but the right temperature is at least 130 degrees at the tap, which you can test with a meat or candy thermometer.

It is important to keep the temperature close to 130 degrees. Even though you can be scalded at 130 degrees if you spend long enough under the water, you’ll probably draw back before that happens. If the temperature is below 120 degrees, Legionella bacteria can grow and you could catch Legionnaire’s disease by inhaling the mist when you take a shower. Temperatures above 130 degrees increase your scalding risk, encourage sediment buildup and waste energy.

When leaving for vacation, set the hot water heater temperature at its lowest setting. This will save money and reduce the risk of any problems while you are away. Also, if your faucets are sputtering, spitting and spewing, it could be a sign that your water heater is overheating.

Vents

A poor draft can cause fumes and carbon monoxide to come back into the room instead of going outside. To maintain good ventilation make sure that:

Earthquake straps

Strapping your water heater is a good idea, even if you live outside an earthquake zone. If your water heater were to fall over for any reason, it could sever the gas line and cause an explosion.

Additional water heater safety tips

Keep safe by following these water heater recommendations:

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