The month of October is fire prevention month. It’s a special time to raise fire prevention awareness and take steps to safeguard our homes. This all started back in 1922 when National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Today it is nationally recognized for the entire month of October. Shockingly, there are around 358,500 house fires each year in the United States, with about 5,400 caused by water heaters! Now, we’re not saying water heaters are inherently dangerous, but we certainly want to stress the importance of being mindful and taking proper steps to avoid any fire safety mishaps.  

Join your Huber Heights Plumbing & Drain family as we walk you through all you need to know about water heater fire prevention.   

What are the differences between gas or electric water heaters?  

Before we dive into safety tips, let’s have a chat about gas and water heaters and what sets them apart. While their sources may differ, their operation and internal mechanics are quite similar. While the topic of which one is better than the other is still open for discussion, let’s just focus on understanding their sources and how they work.  

Gas Water Heaters: Gas water heaters use natural or propane gas to heat water, which means it’s important to be aware of potential gas leaks. Leaking gas can create flammable vapor and increase the risk of a vapor-induced explosion if it comes into contact with an ignition flame. The good news is that newer water heater models are typically designed with a sealed bottom to protect the ignition flame and prevent contact with flammable vapors. To prioritize safety, it’s always a good idea to have a Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector in your home, regardless of the age of your water heater. These hybrid alarms can detect carbon monoxide as well as natural gases like methane and propane. 

Electric Water Heaters: On the other hand, electric water heaters use electricity as their source, so it’s important to be mindful of signs of overheating or electrical fires. There could be a few reasons why your water heater is overheating. (For more information on this, you can click here.) However, if your water heater’s temperature is above 140ºF, you can try turning it down. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s time to call a professional. It’s generally recommended to keep water heaters set between 120ºF and 140ºF for optimal performance. 

Helpful safety tips to prevent water heater fires: 

1. Remember to keep flammable materials away from your water heater and its surrounding area. Since many water heaters are placed in garages, it’s common for these items to be located nearby. This includes, but is not limited to paint cans or canisters, empty (or full) gasoline containers, household chemicals such as cleaning products, cardboard boxes, rags, paper, fabric, wooden furniture, or even plastic bottles. 

In addition, if your water heater happens to be located inside your garage, it’s important to be mindful of any other items you store there, like your lawn mower. While it’s not the same as storing an empty gasoline container, keep in mind that most lawnmowers require gas to run. So, it’s best to avoid placing any appliance filled with gas near your water heater to minimize the risk of a potential fire hazard.   

2. It’s a good idea to know how to turn off the water heater. You might not think about it until you’re in a pinch and need to act fast, but having that knowledge beforehand can really come in handy. 

3. Make sure to keep the space around your water heater clutter-free. Remember, it’s not just about avoiding flammables nearby but also giving your water heater some “breathing space.” You want to ensure proper airflow to prevent any fire hazards. So, avoid placing or stacking items around or in front of your water heater and let it breathe freely. Safety first! 

4. Don’t forget to schedule your annual plumbing inspection! It’s super important for preventative care. Our expert plumbers at Huber Heights Plumbing & Drain will take a thorough look at all your plumbing equipment – pipes, drainage systems, sinks, toilets, showers, water heaters, and more. This helps ensure everything’s working smoothly and catches any potential issues before they become big problems. Stay safe and keep your plumbing in tip-top shape! 

Prioritizing safety and proper care when it comes to your water heater is key to fire prevention. Our top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of you and your family! 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 Huber Heights Plumbing & Drain for all of your plumbing needs today at (937) 764-3381, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here!