Tips on preventing water damage from your water heater

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Short of a fire, nothing causes more damage to the inside of a property than leaking water. It is estimated that water from failing or frozen pipes, hoses, plumbing fixtures and appliances cause 65% of damage to properties. Many property owners are not aware that water heaters are a leading cause of residential water damages. Fortunately, there are simple and inexpensive steps you can take to prevent most of this damage.

How do Water Heaters Fail?

A water heater holds and transfers water continuously — from installation to replacement or failure. Over time, deposits will accumulate on the bottom of the tank. These deposits corrode the tank liner and heater elements. Water quality, particularly water hardness, directly influences the amount of sediment deposited. Moving water also causes wear on the tank and piping. The hotter the water, the greater the fatigue on the parts it touches. The constant heating of cold water also subjects the unit to extreme temperature swings. Simply put, no household appliance works under tougher conditions.

In most cases, water heaters fail gradually, but not always. Some of the telltale signs of imminent failure include water accumulation beneath the heater, a hissing or whistling sound characteristic of a worn valve, and chronic hot water shortages during periods of normal demand. A prompt corrective action is required once the signs of failure appear.

When the corroded bottom of a tank fails without warning, the water already in the tank and the continuously fed cold-water supply create a deluge. If not stopped, this water will continue to flow. In these cases, it’s crucial to stop the flow of water by turning off the cold-water supply valve at the water heater or at the water main shut-off.

Water Heater Inspection and Replacement

A good first step toward minimizing the chance of a water heater failure is a regular inspection by residents. If residents detect any sign of failure, they need to contact a licensed and insured plumber promptly and have the heater replaced.When replacing water heaters, record the installation date on the body of the unit or on a tag attached to the feeder pipe.

Ways to Minimize Potential Water Damage

Property owners can take several steps to minimize the damage from a failed water heater before a loss occurs.

Installing a catch pan with a drain connected to a waste line, sump pump or other means of channeling water out of the building will help in the event of a small leak. The pan and drain should be large enough to keep water from rising and reaching any electrical or gas controls in the heater and should allow for access to controls mounted on the water heater.

A sensor can be installed that detect water beneath the heater, the valve automatically stops the flow of water to the heater. These devices can prevent damage from a slow leak and limit the damage from a tank failure to the contents of the tank. They retail for around $100 plus installation.

Water alarms are also available from several manufacturers. These devices will not prevent damage but may alert you to a leak or failure. The biggest con with these is you have to be home to hear it!

On-demand or instantaneous water heaters are becoming more popular. These devices eliminate the traditional storage tank and heat water directly when there is a call for hot water. Installation can be expensive, and there often is not enough capacity for large, simultaneous demands for hot water.

Bottom line, water is the most insidious and relentless of property destroyers, ruining more property than fire. Like most things, prevention is the best solution.

If disaster should strike 24Restore’s highly trained team is here for you. We pride ourselves on always being available for you, with fast response.  You can reach someone from our office 24 hours a day by calling 763-753-8080. If you need immediate help, our 24-hour on-call emergency team will be there for you no matter the time of day.

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