Water Heater Safety Tips
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Water Heater Maintenance and Safety Tips

water heater safety

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 120 degrees at the tap, which you can test with a meat or candy thermometer.

It is important to keep the temperature close to 120 degrees to kill germs and prevent children from being scaled. Compared to adults, babies and children have thinner skin that burns faster and at lower temperatures. It's a good idea to check the water temperature using your wrist or elbow every time you bathe a baby, toddler or young child. For more information about preventing burns and scalds to children visit Make Safe Happen.com.

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.


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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