Make Sure Your Hot Water Heater is Safe

Posted: February 7, 2023 at 12:33 pm

One home appliance that seldom gets much of a thought is the hot water heater. However, neglecting the appliance that we depend on to turn cold water into hot can cause serious havoc.

You may only notice issues with this underappreciated appliance at the prospect of a cold shower, but a hot water heater that’s improperly installed or maintained could cause much more serious consequences than that.

Once it blows, it could blast off like a missile with enough force to lift your house off its foundation. Or, you could be sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix when suddenly it bursts and your ceiling caves in (depending on its location) and you have an instant flood and massive mess on your hands.

A hot water heater could explode or malfunction for the following reasons:

  1. Sediment buildup in the tank
  2. Rust corroding the tank; or
  3. Too much internal pressure

If your hot water makes a popping or knocking noise, there could be water trapped under the sediment. To prevent this from happening, flush and drain your hot water heater tank once every year.

If your tap water is a brown, rusty color, you may have rust in the water tank. Although hot water heaters have something called an anode rod to prevent this, it can deteriorate over time. Be sure to inspect the rod every 2 years and at least annually once your warranty has expired. The rod itself should be replaced every 4 to 5 years; sooner if you have a water softener.

If your hot water heater’s temperature and pressure relief valve (aka T&P) keeps opening to release water or it leaks (a sign that your valve is bad), you could have a potential bomb-projectile combo on your hands. To help prevent too much pressure in your tank:

  1. Set the temperature at 120° to 125 °. Setting it too high (140°+) causes pressure to build in the tank. (Additional benefit: this will help lower your energy bill.)
  2. Test your T&P twice a year (or have it tested by a professional) to make sure it is working properly. You can find the valve on the top or side of your tank (be careful—the water will be extremely hot; it is not like the sink or shower when you wait for hot water to make its way through the pipes).

For additional information, consult a qualified service technician. Visit the Safe Electricty website for more information.