The leaves are falling, your pulling out the sweaters and coats; time to put away the sandals and buckle up those boots. It is also time to double check the safety of your water heater. Every year a few water heaters explode with devastating results. Did you ever see the Myth Busters episode about the water heater?
To help you out, here are some easy starting points for you to do some evaluating of how safe your water heater is.
- Remove paper, accumulated dust, or other combustibles from the heater enclosure.
- Extinguish the pilot light before using flammable liquids or setting off aerosol bug bombs near the unit. Never store combustibles close by.
- If the device is in the garage, raise it so the pilot light is 18 in. above the floor. This can help prevent ignition of gasoline vapors that collect near the floor.
- Inspect the flue for breaks or gaps that could leak deadly exhaust gas (this is good practice to do on other gas appliances).
- Ask your service technician to check the temperature pressure-relief valve, a faucet-like device mouthed on top or to the side of the heater. Excessively high temperature or pressure causes this valve to open, relieving pressure and preventing a steam explosion.
- Consider installing an automatic gas-shutoff valve that stops the flow of gas if the ground moves of if gas flow increases dramatically. The valve, which could cost around $300, prevents fires when a gas line breaks due to flood, earthquake, or other disasters. Some utility companies might install one and let you pay it off monthly.
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