Water Heater Safety

by Zachary Mikat

Upland California, home to billions of rocks, is also home to thousands of neglected water heaters.  Unfortunately, the appliance in your home that could potentially cause the most damage is also the most neglected.  In a city like Upland where the water is on the upper end of hard, maintaining your water heater is an absolute must to insure that it operates safely. An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.

So how do I avoid this tank full of problems?

The first thing we need to do is a safety check.  A good place to start is the kitchen.  Odd, I know, but that’s where the meat thermometer is.  Run the water until it’s hot and then place a cup under the faucet and check it with a meat thermometer.  Homes with young children should never have water hotter than 120°F.  If you’re a little high, adjust the temperature dial down on your water heater and re-check the water temperature after a couple of hours.

Next, take a look at the water heater; on or near the top there is a Temperature Pressure Relief Valve (TPRV).  It has a brass head with a short metal lever on it.  Your TPRV should also have a pipe attached to it that leads it to the exterior of your home.  This is important, because when you test it, water is going to come pouring out and you definitely don’t want it in your home.  Here’s how it works: lift up on the metal lever  (this opens the valve) and you should hear water rushing through the drain pipe.  When you let go, the valve should close.  If you lift up on the lever and the valve does not open, those dastardly little minerals have sealed it shut and the TPRV must be replaced.  If you let go of the lever and the valve does not close, or continues to leak, the TPRV is defective and must be replaced, give your Upland Plumber a Call

Why is this so important? The TPRV protects you from an explosion. In the event the control valve on your water heater malfunctions and continues to heat the tank, the water temperature and pressure will both rise to dangerous levels, resulting in an explosion without the intervention of the relief valve. The TPRV is designed to open when the temperature reaches 210° F, just prior to boiling point, or 150 psi. If your relief valve is not operating properly, strap on your seat belt, you’re sitting on a steam powered rocket that’s ready to take off!

It is also important to remember, your water heater is a gas appliance.  If you ever smell gas, turn the gas off to the water heater and call Green Hippo Plumbing immediately. Keep in mind as well, that gas cans and gas powered equipment should be placed as far from a flame source, like a water heater, as possible.

So, there it is.  A nice once-a-year Safety check-up and your water heater will be safe for years to come. It’s also a good time to flush out your tank, so we will cover that in a later article.  I recommend setting up a yearly schedule that coincides with a yearly event, such as New Years or the 4th of July.  That way you’re sure to remember the most neglected appliance in your home and give it the attention it deserves.

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