Did you know that October is Fire Prevention Month? It was first established as National Fire Prevention Week in 1922, which commemorated the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. But now, the whole month of October is dedicated to fire safety, and we are here for it! Each year, around 358,500 house fires occur, with about 5,400 of them caused by water heaters. Now, don’t get us wrong. In no way does this mean that water heaters are unavoidably dangerous. But it’s important to highlight that, as with all things, neglecting proper practices with your water heater can lead to serious problems if you’re not careful. So, join your Lancaster Plumbing & Drain experts as we guide you through essential water heater fire prevention measures.  

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

Before we dive into safety tips, let’s talk about the differences between gas and electric water heaters. While they use different energy sources, their operation and internal workings are pretty similar. So, which one is safer? Well, that’s up for debate. But for now, let’s focus on understanding their energy sources and how they work. 

Gas Water Heaters: These appliances use natural or propane gas to heat water, which means gas leaks can potentially release flammable vapor. If there’s a gas leak and the vapor comes into contact with an ignition flame, there’s a higher chance of an explosion. Luckily, most modern water heater models have a sealed bottom to protect the ignition flame from flammable vapors. To be safe, it’s a good idea to install a Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector in your home, regardless of how old your water heater is. These hybrid alarms can detect carbon monoxide and natural gases like methane and propane. 

Electric Water Heaters: On the flip side, since electric water heaters run on electricity, it’s important to stay vigilant for any signs of overheating or electrical fires. Click here for more info! There are a few factors that can cause water heaters to overheat, but if the temperature goes above 140ºF, try lowering it. If the problem persists, it’s best to seek professional help. (Typically, water heaters should be set between 120ºF and 140ºF.) 

Safety Tips for Water Heater Fire Prevention:  

  • Keep Flammable Materials Away: Make sure you keep flammable items far away from your water heater and its surroundings. Items like paint cans, empty gasoline containers, oily rags, cleaning products, cardboard boxes, paper stacks, wood furniture, and plastic bottles nearby should be kept away from the unit at all times. Also, be careful with storing things like lawnmowers that need gasoline since it can be a fire hazard if your water heater is in the garage.  
  • Know How to Shut Off the Water Heater: Make sure you know how to turn off your water heater. You never know when you might need this info in a pinch. Trust me, it’s better to be prepared than caught off guard in a critical situation. So, take a few minutes to learn how to shut off your water heater ahead of time.  
  • Clear the Area: Make sure to keep the area around your water heater clear of clutter. Think of it as giving your water heater enough “breathing room” to ensure proper airflow. When you stack things around or in front of your water heater, it blocks the airflow and can be a real fire hazard. So, better safe than sorry! 
  • Schedule an Annual Plumbing Inspection: Make sure to schedule a yearly plumbing check-up by a professional plumber. These thorough inspections cover all aspects of your plumbing system, like pipes, drains, sinks, toilets, showers, water heaters, and other plumbing appliances. This proactive approach helps keep everything running smoothly, catches any potential problems early, and prevents them from turning into bigger issues down the road. 

Remember, keeping your water heater safe and well-maintained is super important. We’ve got your back when it comes to making sure you and your family stay safe! Give us a call to learn more about our Whole Home Protection Plan. We’ve got you covered when it comes to keeping your home and HVAC system in tip-top shape! 

Call Lancaster Plumbing & Drain today (740) 796-8998, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here!