Did you know that October is Fire Prevention Month? It was first established in 1922 as National Fire Prevention Week to honor the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but has now expanded to the entire month. On average, there are about 358,500 house fires per year, with around 5,400 caused by water heaters. This doesn’t mean water heaters are inherently dangerous, but it’s important to highlight that neglecting or mishandling them can lead to significant problems if not addressed promptly. 

So, join your Mason Plumbing & Drain family as we walk you through important steps to prevent water heater fires. 

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

Before we talk about safety tips, let’s first understand the differences between gas and electric water heaters. While they use different energy sources, their operation and internal workings are quite similar. So, let’s focus on understanding their energy sources and how they work. 

Gas Water Heaters: Gas-powered appliances, including water heaters, can potentially cause gas leaks that release flammable vapor. If this vapor encounters an ignition flame, the risk of an explosion increases. Luckily, most modern water heater models have sealed bottoms to protect against flammable vapors. To be safe, it’s recommended to install a Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector in your home, regardless of your water heater’s age. These detectors can identify carbon monoxide as well as natural gases like methane and propane. 

Electric Water Heaters: Electric water heaters, on the other hand, rely on electricity. It’s important to stay vigilant for any signs of overheating or electrical fires. For more information on why water heaters tend to overheat, click here. There are several factors that can lead to water heaters overheating, but if the temperature exceeds 140ºF, try lowering it. If the issue persists, it’s best to seek professional assistance. Generally, water heaters should be set between 120ºF and 140ºF. 

Safety Tips for Water Heater Fire Prevention:  

  • Keep Flammable Materials Away: Make sure to keep flammable materials far away from your water heater and its surroundings. These items include but are not limited to paint cans, gasoline containers, oily rags, household chemicals, cleaning products, cardboard boxes, stacks of paper, wood furniture, and plastic bottles. Also, if your water heater is located in your garage, you should 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: Learn how to turn off your water heater if you don’t know how to do so already. You may not think you’ll need this knowledge until you’re in a critical situation where quick action is vital. So, knowing how to shut off your water heater in advance can be extremely valuable. 
  • Clear the Area: Make sure to keep the space around your water heater clear of clutter. Think of it as giving your water heater enough room to breathe and allowing proper airflow. Moreover, try to avoid stacking items around or in front of your water heater because it can block airflow and create a real fire hazard. 
  • Schedule an Annual Plumbing Inspection: Arrange for a yearly plumbing inspection by a professional plumber. These thorough inspections cover all aspects of your plumbing system, including pipes, drainage, sinks, toilets, showers, water heaters, and other plumbing appliances. This proactive approach helps ensure the proper functioning of your plumbing, identifies potential issues, and prevents them from becoming more serious and hazardous in the future. 

Ensuring the safety of you and your family is our top priority. Remember, it’s crucial to prioritize safe practices and responsible maintenance to enforce fire prevention methods. 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! 

Stay safe and call Mason Plumbing & Drain for all your plumbing needs today at (513) 298-6996, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here