Did you know that October is designated as Fire Prevention Month? Originally established as National Fire Prevention Week in 1922 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, it has since evolved to encompass the entire month. On average, approximately 358,500 house fires occur each year, with around 5,400 of them attributed to water heaters. Now, please understand this isn’t to label water heaters as inherently hazardous but rather to emphasize that improper practices and neglect of your water heater can lead to significant problems if left unattended. 

Join the Five Star Columbus Plumbing family as we guide you through essential water heater fire prevention measures. 

Exploring the Differences in Risks Between Gas and Electric Water Heaters: 

Before delving into safety tips, let’s delve into the distinctions between gas and electric water heaters. While their energy sources differ, their operational mechanisms and internal workings are quite similar. So, which one holds the edge in terms of safety? While this remains a debatable topic, let’s focus on grasping their energy sources and how they function. 

Gas Water Heaters: These appliances employ natural or propane gas to heat water, making gas leaks a potential source of flammable vapor. If a gas leak occurs and the flammable vapor encounters an ignition flame, the likelihood of a vapor-induced explosion increases. Fortunately, most modern water heater models are sealed at the bottom, protecting the ignition flame from flammable vapors. To err on the side of caution, it’s wise to install a Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector in your home, regardless of your water heater’s age. These hybrid alarms can detect carbon monoxide as well as natural gases like methane and propane. 

Electric Water Heaters: Conversely, electric water heaters rely on electricity, warranting vigilance for signs of overheating or electrical fires. Click here to read more on this topic! Several factors can cause water heaters to overheat, but if the temperature exceeds 140ºF, try lowering it. If the issue persists, seek professional assistance. (Generally, water heaters should be set between 120ºF and 140ºF.) 

Safety Tips for Water Heater Fire Prevention: 

  • Keep Flammable Materials Away: Ensure that flammable materials are kept far away from your water heater and its immediate vicinity. These include but are limited to paint cans, empty gasoline containers, oily rags, household chemicals, cleaning products, cardboard boxes, stacks of paper, wood furniture, and plastic bottles. Additionally, if your water heater is in the garage, exercise caution when storing items like lawnmowers that require gasoline, as this poses a significant fire hazard. 
  • Know How to Shut Off the Water Heater: Familiarize yourself with how to turn off your water heater. You may not anticipate needing this knowledge until you’re faced with a critical situation where quick action is crucial. So, knowing how to shut off your water heater in advance can prove invaluable. 
  • Clear the Area: Keep the space surrounding your water heater free of clutter. Think of it as providing adequate “breathing space” for your water heater to ensure proper airflow. Stacking items around or in front of your water heater obstructs airflow and poses a genuine fire hazard. 
  • Schedule an Annual Plumbing Inspection: Schedule an annual plumbing inspection performed by a professional plumber. Comprehensive plumbing inspections cover various components of your plumbing system, including pipes, drainage systems, sinks, toilets, showers, water heaters, and other plumbing-related appliances. This proactive approach helps maintain the proper functioning of your plumbing system, detects potential issues, and prevents them from escalating into more significant and dangerous problems in the future. 

Remember, safety and responsible maintenance of your water heater are paramount. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of you and your family! Give us a call to learn more about our Whole Home Protection Plan. Five Star Columbus Plumbing has got you covered when it comes to keeping your home and HVAC system in tip-top shape! 

Stay safe and call Five Star Columbus Plumbing today at (614) 401-8086, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here