Water heaters are essential for homes as well as commercial properties and facilities. However, these are usually hidden in the basement or a utility closet, away from everyone’s eyes.
This doesn’t mean that you can forget its maintenance. It’s necessary to ensure the safety of the device.

Here’s what you can do to make sure the heater is functioning right and is free of risk.

- Test the temperature and pressure relief valve

The temperature or pressure valve keeps the tank from exploding by maintaining the pressure within safe limits.

Residential valves may be prone to failure, so test the valve to ensure its working. Pull on the handle to see if water flows freely and let it go to check if it stops fully. In case of dripping or continuous flow, change the valve.

- Set the temperature to 130 degrees

Legionella bacteria, the most common pathogen found in stored water, can grow at temperatures below 120 degrees. Make sure the heater is set at 130 degrees to minimize the risk.

If the heater doesn’t tell the exact temperature, check it using a thermometer for various heater settings. Then set the heater at a setting that offers temperature closer to 130 degrees.

- Ensure proper ventilation

Poor ventilation will lead the fumes and carbon monoxide gas going back into the room. It’s important that good ventilation is maintained.

The vent must have the same diameter as the draft diverter. It should go straight up and out, free of dips. Also, it should be double-walled if it passes though roofs or walls.

Additional Tips

  1. Remove dust, dirt, lint and paper accumulated beneath or near the enclosure.
  2. If a gas heater is installed in the garage, make sure the pilot light is at least 18 inches from the floor. It can help prevent ignition of gasoline vapors.
  3. Extinguish pilot light before using aerosol sprays or other flammable liquids.
  4. Install an automatic gas-shutoff valve to prevent gas from flowing around in case of unforeseen movement. It can diffuse gas line breaks in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or even floods.
  5. Insulate a few feet of hot water and cold water pipes to conserve energy. It will reduce heat loss in winter and ‘sweating’ effect in summer.
  6. Never use insulation near the flue exhaust vent or draft hood of the natural gas water heater.

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