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Water heater safety precautions
Important safety and practical concerns for water heater owners
Para el espaņol, por favor uso traductor Google
Water heater flame will ignite vapors
Do not store gasoline in open container.
Shellac, Kilz, lacquer, varnish, floor & spray paints, etc. > Read labels for flammable warning
and explosion from flammable vapors:
Applies to: gas water heater & gas appliances & gas logs & electric strip space heater & open fireplace & any open flame (does not apply to typical electric water heater)
Gasoline vapors, as well as other flammable materials such as adhesives, contact cement, solvents, paint thinners, lacquer, solvent-based cleaners, model airplane glue, aerosol paint, WD40, carburetor cleaner, etc can ignite and cause flashover and explosion that will kill you and burn down house. Other explosive gases include oxygen, hydrogen and acetylene.
How it happens: Water heater combustion cycle and vent pipe to outdoors will pull vapor into combustion chamber. Flammable vapor enters through water heater air intake where vapor encounters the pilot light or hot-surface igniter or burner.
Flammable vapors ignite, and flames travel back out through air intake and into the room that is filled with vapor, causing a flashover or explosion that will kill you and start a conflagration inside room.
Caution: Flammable vapors are extremely dangerous around gas water heaters and gas appliances. inclucding tankless gas, tankless electric, and electric hybrid water heaters, and fireplaces, etc. DO NOT handle, use or store gasoline or other flammable or combustible materials anywhere near or in vicinity of a gas water heater or any other gas appliance. Read product labels.
Gas safety cans at Amazon
Gas water heater 18" off floor:
Gas water heater must be installed 18" off floor so gasoline vapors close to floor cannot easily enter combustion chamber
gas water heater safety
Keep belongings away from gas water heater. And away from top of heater.
Do not obstruct air intake. Do not obstruct vent hood draft on top of heater.
Always set gas water heater on wood or metal surface. Never on carpet or formica etc.
Vent pipe gets hot, and must not directly touch other materials including walls and building materials.
Gas water heater must have adequate incoming air supply to support proper combustion and venting.
Inadequate air supply can lead to FV lockout, and other events such as build-up of unburned fuel gathering inside flue or combustion chamber, leading to explosion hazard. Read about water heater FVIR and repair
If gas water heater is installed in closet, the door must be full louvered, with louvers on both top and bottom panels of door.
Soot on top of gas water heater indicates extremely dangerous situation where poisonous CO gas is entering home.
leak inside house: Applies to gas water heater
& all gas appliances (does not apply to electric water heater)
What to look for: LP and Natural gas have odorant added to aid in detecting gas leak. Some people may not physically be able to smell or recognize this odorant. If you are unsure or unfamiliar with smell of LP or natural gas, ask the gas supplier. Other conditions, such as “odorant fade”, which causes the odorant to diminish in intensity, can also hide or camouflage a gas leak. Water heater that is not maintained can be serious hazard.
More information: NG or Natural Gas comes from the city gas utility, and house will have a gas meter. LP gas is delivered by tank truck to rural users, and LP gas is stored in pressurized tank located near house.
Natural gas tends to rise so it is easier to smell while standing. LP gas tends to stay low to the floor, and can fill a basement. Many local codes do not permit installation of LP gas water heater in basement.
Always smell close to floor to check for LP gas leak.
What to do:
1) Make sure gas water heater is maintained and inspected on yearly basis. Do not reuse old water heater, or old parts, or heater that was flooded.
2) Install correct water heater. For example manufactured housing require specific type of heater. Install according to product manual.
3) Do not convert LP to NG or NG to LP: Reason: LP gas is supplied at much higher pressure and burns at higher temperature.
4) Follow safety rules that come with product. For example: Do not install LP heater below grade in basement.
5) Always smell close to floor to check for LP gas leak.
6) Learn to recognize 'gas' odorant. If gas is present, do not turn on a light switch or touch anything that might cause static spark.
7) If gas smell is present: Leave house immediately. Leave windows and doors open.
8) Call gas supplier from location outside the house.
9) Turn off main shut-off at gas meter.
10) Install gas detector according to local codes.
Power vented water heater
Use approved vent pipe: galvanized, stainless or PVC
hazards: Applies to gas water heater
and all gas appliances (does not apply to electric water heater)
All gas appliances must be properly vented to outdoors, and have adequate fresh air to support combustion so that all fuel is burned.
Vent must draft air upwards from combustion chamber and out of house. Combustion by-product must be vented to outdoors. Vent must not be susceptible to backdraft caused by installing power-vented furnace on same vent, or caused by other vent fans operating inside the house. Read how to test vent for draft and spillage
Observe correct distances when venting near windows and doors so that combustion by-product is not drawn back into the house. See illustration
What to look for:
1) Soot on top of heater and/or on burner means odorless CO gas is entering house. This is immediate danger. Call plumber. Illustration below.
2) Rusted flakes around top of water heater indicate water is dripping back down vent pipe. Water dripping down vent pipe mean vent hood is missing or vent is not working correctly. This is dangerous since the vent is not moving all combustion by-product to outdoors.
3) Obstructions in front of heater and dirty air intake can cause fuel not to burn fully. When fuel is left in water heater and vent pipe, it becomes fire and explosion hazard. Move obstructions away from gas water heater. Open windows. Clean air intake with vacuum cleaner. Clean burner.
4) Vent pipes must not have holes or be covered with white condensate.
5) Each joint must be screwed together with 3 sheet-metal screws. Vent hood must be attached to water heater with screws. More
6) Vent pipe must be spaced away from flammable household construction materials. More vent resources
7) Vent pipe must be made of approved material. For example aluminum vent that is used for clothes dryer cannot be used for water heater vent. Water heater vent must be galvanized, or stainless steel, or approved PVC. Read product manual for recommended material for your water heater.
8) Vent must be correct diameter for water heater. Read product manual.
9) Trace amounts of chemicals stored in same room, such as bleach and pool chemicals will cause corrosive damage to vent pipes. Read
10) Vent dampers and Heat activated vent dampers can stop flow of combustion gas. Remove unnecessary dampers.
11) Do not install gas water heater in confined area that lacks fresh air: 12.5 cubic feet of air volume for each 1000 BTU Read formulas and definitions
12) Gas water heater installled in closet: The closet must have louvered door so combustion air can enter water heater, and all fuel is burned.
What happens when vent is incorrect:
1) Pilot and burner might not work correctly.
2) NG and LP gas can be remain unburned inside water heater, causing fire and explosion hazard.
3) Deadly odorless CO gas can enter home. NG and LP gas creates combustion by-product including odorless carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide that can enter and fill house. These atmospheric gases are odorless and deadly.
TP valve and discharge pipe
valve is first line of safety. Applies to all water heaters
Do not cap off TP discharge pipe. Do not cover or obstruct TP valve. TP valve should be set away from walls and materials that stop valve handle from opening outward.
Removing and plugging TP valve or capping off TP discharge pipe can lead to explosion of water heater tank.
TP valve only releases water when tank is overheating -or- when TP valve has gone bad.
When TP valve is releasing water, the water drizzles, drips and/or periodically bursts out of discharge pipe and creates puddle at bottom of heater.
What to look for: Water heater should be dry at all times. Look for water around base of water heater, and listen for perodic sound of scalding water
being released. Some TP valves drain directly into drain pipe so listen for sounds of escaping water.
Drip pan saves damage
See drip pan installation
Water heater drip pans at Amazon
drain pan: Minimize damage from leaking water heater
Drain pan no greater than 1-1/2” deep and at least 2” wider than tank.
Pan must not restrict air flow to gas water heater.
TP discharge pipe cannot be lower than top rim of drain pan.
Drain pipe from drain pan must be at least 3/4". Larger is better in event of ruptured tank. Run discharge into drain or outdoors.
See installation diagram
Water heater drip pans at Amazon
Water detectors at Amazon
Auto-shut-off valve at Amazon
Hydrogen gas in water line.
Natural gas in water line.
Build-up of hydrogen gas in unused hot water system
all water heaters
Run kitchen faucet before using dishwasher or washing machine when water heater has not been used for several weeks.
Hot water system that is unused for 2 weeks or more can accumulate Hydrogen in some cases.
Hydrogen is extremely flammable. For example the Sun is made of hydrogen. Hydrogen is odorless.
Bacteria in heated, oxygen-depleted water can react with anode rod to produce hydrogen. Similar conditions with sulphur present can produce rotten egg smell. When faucet is turned on, it releases hydrogen gas into room. Enclosed appliances like dishwasher and washing machine can ignite the hydrogen. Light switch can ignite hydrogen if enough of the gas is present.
What to look for: Sound of escaping gas at faucet when faucet is turned on.
What to do:
1) Turn water heater OFF or set to Vacation when water heater is not used for several weeks. This will reduce heat component.
2) When using hot water for first time after vacation, turn on kitchen faucet for several minutes BEFORE turning on light switch.
3) Do not use dishwasher or washing machine before running kitchen faucet as described. Enclosed areas like dishwasher or wash machine confine
the gas into single area where enough gas can accumulte for ignition.
gas in water pipes occurs in some water wells This is a water well issue
and does not apply to water heaters
Cause: fractured rock during natural gas extraction causes natural gas to migrate to water table. Natural gas enters water table.
Water well draws water and gas from water table. Natural gas enters plumbing pipes.
When natural gas comes directly from the ground, it will have no odor. Natural gas only has odor when odorant is added by gas company.
What to look for: Sound of escaping gas when faucet is turned on. There will no natural gas smell. Natural gas is odorless until gas company adds odorant.
What to do: Call congressman and demand de-regulation so drillers can do whatever they want. Then ask which corporation hiding profits in offshore island banks is contributing to your congressman's campaign, and politely ask why the US Navy is protecting those banking paradises on your dime while the tax-dodging corporations blame you for THE Problem.
Read about rotten egg smell caused by oxygen depleted water reacting with anode rod
and flooded water heater is dangerous: Applies to all water heaters
If burner was flooded, NG and LP gas can be remain unburned inside water heater, causing fire and explosion hazard.
Wet insulation inside water heater can create shock hazard when touching water heater.
Caution: Do not touch water heater that is wet or was flooded.
Turn off electricity before touching any water heater that is or was wet
This includes gas and electric water heaters.
What to do:
1) Replace water heater that has flooded
2) Do not reuse parts from water heater that was flooded
3) Raise water heater higher in areas that are prone to flooding.
4) Keep gas water heater air intake above possible water level.
5) Install water heater in catch pan to minimize damage caused by leaks.
6) Inspect for water leaks frequently. Leaking water heater
Tape multimeter leads to wood
1) When testing water heaters, tape tester leads to wood sticks.
2) Stand on dry boards.
3) Do NOT stand on bare soil
3) Do not stand in water, or on wet surface
4) Do not touch, or lean into anything made of metal. Do not hold screwdriver in mouth.
5) Wear dry clothes and dry shoes
Installing water heater
gas water heater:
How to install gas water heater
not install GAS water heater on top of carpet. Applies to gas water heater
Must be on wood or metal.
Household belongings and building materials must be kept away from gas water heater:
4" away from front;
1" away from side and back
24" away from top of gas water heater. Larger
Use 10 guage wire and 30 amp breaker
electric water heater:
1) Most electric water heaters have 4500 watt element. Check label on side of tank.
2) Recommended that 240Volt 4500 watt electric water heaters be connected to 30 amp breaker and orange-colored 10 gauge wire.
3) Using 30 amp breaker and 10 gauge wire insures efficiency in electrical circuit.
4) Using smaller 20 amp breaker and 12 gauge wire pushes amp usage to maximum, and will cause possible overheating and early failure of circuit
breaker, and damage to breaker box from overheated breaker.
Figure volts amps and watts for electric water heater
5) Do not obstruct or cap-off TP valve
Measure wallet thickness.
Not necessary to read this information if wallet is thicker than 2"
4) Inspect water heater each 6 months for signs of leaking or change. Leaking water can be rusted and ready to rupture. Leaking water heater
5) Inspect and replace anode rod once every 2-3 years. Read about anode rods
6) Keep water heater and water pipes from freezing.
7) Electrically ground pipes with #6 copper jumper wire from hot to cold water pipes at water heater.
8) Use di-electric nipples when connecting different water pipe metals together. This will protect pipes from leak, clog, and rupture.
9) Gurgling or crackling sounds indicate sediment build-up inside tank. Prevent build-up with regular flushing each 6 months. Cleaning tank
10) With gas water heater: Adequate fresh air is needed. Avoid dusty environ. Clean air intake with vacuum cleaner yearly. Read about FVIR
12) Follow instruction manual and clean combustion parts yearly. This will avoid overheating and tripped ECO.
14) Look at flame color: Flame should be strong and clear-blue. Weak yellow-orange flames indicate cleaning is needed.
15) Keep chemicals out of same room: gas water heaters draw air into combustion chamber. Burning trace amounts of chemical will damage
combustion parts and vent pipe.
16) Read: 9 ways to save with water heater
to do to increase amount of hot water:
How to increase amount of water:
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