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Is Your Hot Water Heater Safe?

Aug 17, 2007
If your home is equipped with a hot water heater, it is important to check on it periodically to make sure the unit remains operational and safe. Many people ignore their appliances and then call a repairperson when a problem occurs. This can be costly and inconvenient, especially if the problem occurs at night, over the weekend, or during the holidays. It is better to keep an eye on the water heater routinely and inspect it every few months to check for problems that may be brewing.

One thing that is easy to check is the temperature of your hot water that comes through the kitchen and bathroom taps. After setting the tank's thermostat to a desired temperature, you will soon get used to the feel of the water to ensure it is neither too hot nor too cold. But if the temperature begins to get hotter or colder, either abruptly or gradually, then you will have to check the gauge to see if it is still set at the right level. If it is, then the tank may not be working correctly, and you will have to make an appointment for service.

Another way to check your hot water tank is by visually inspecting the spigot handle and the tank's exterior for signs of drips, leaks, or condensation. Also look for signs of rust or mold. Check the floor under the unit to see if it is damp. If any of these indicators reveal evidence of a problem, don't delay in calling a repairperson immediately. Even a small leak or drip could grow into a larger problem, so don't take chances by letting it go.

Don't forget to check out the gas or electrical connection that operates the hot water tank. Make sure the cord has not become frayed or torn, and that the plug is still solid and usable. If any part of the electrical connection appears doubtful, call an electrician for a checkup. The same goes for a gas connection. Sniff occasionally for fumes, but never light a candle or other incendiary device if you believe there may be fumes in the area, as this could cause a fire or an explosion. Check the pilot light from time to time to make sure it is lit and burning at the proper level. Again, if you have any doubts at all, call the gas company to report the problem and wait for someone to come and check the unit. If there is a smell of gas or if you believe there is a gas leak, leave your home and stay elsewhere, taking care to let the repairperson know in advance of your concerns.

Even though a hot water tank doesn't take up a huge amount of room, isn't loud, and doesn't require frequent attention, it still plays an important role in our homes. Don't neglect yours; believing it will care for itself. With a little forethought, your tank can remain functional for many years.
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