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“Tanks” for being safety minded

Washington Energy | 04/14/2011 | Posted in Tank water heaters, Tankless water heaters

If you live in Seattle or the Puget Sound area, you likely have an earthquake valve and earthquake straps on your water heater to protect your home, but most water heater emergencies come from the natural processes of the tank itself, not earthquakes. So, are you prepared?

Corrosion is the enemy:
Inside your water heater is a metal rod called an anode. Over time, an electrochemical reaction causes the rod to corrode while the steel tank remains intact. It’s meant to do that – the anode sacrifices itself so the tank survives. But, if the anode has no metal left, well then the electrochemical process attacks the water heater itself. It rusts out and you find a flood on the floor. A qualified water heater repair company or plumber can replace this anode and extend the life of your water heater.

Put explosions in check:
On most models there is a safety device known as the temperature-pressure relief (T&P) valve located at or near the top. If an excessive temperature or pressure were to build up, this valve opens, relieving the effects and preventing an explosion. Once a year, test it by pulling up on the handle. If water flows out of the pipe attached to it, it is functioning properly. If sediments prevent the valve from re-sealing, pull on the handle a few times to flush it away. If it still does not seal, call a plumber immediately and do not cap the discharge pipe.

Get rid of sedentary sediment:
Traditional tank water heaters naturally develop sediment as water is heated and calcium carbonate settles to the bottom of the tank. While this sediment is not harmful to you, it reduces the efficiency and storage capacity of the tank, and its lifespan. To combat this, you can easily drain and flush your water heater. If you don’t have your specific manufacturer’s instructions for tank draining, look online for them. And if you are not ready to try it yourself, call a professional water heater repair company or plumber.

Get the sticker:
A water heater safety procedure sticker is important to place on the tank. This way, family members know the emergency shutdown procedures and have an emergency service phone number.

Your tank water heater is expected to last 8 to 13 years. Taking the actions above can extend its life and help you to avoid a water emergency. Looking for an alternative? A tankless water heater does not store water. It will last 15 – 20 years and is more energy efficient. Click here to see some of your options.

Learn more about water heater safety and get a free emergency procedure sticker for your water heater by emailing info@washingtonenergy.com or call 1.800.398.HOME.

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