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Can a Water Heater Cause a Fire?

can a water heater cause a fire?

Water heaters are a common fixture in almost every home. Without it, you would be forced to bathe in ice cold water which is something no one wants! Having a hot water heater in your home ensures you have plenty of warm water when it’s needed most, whether you are bathing, washing clothes, or washing dishes.

However, it’s not uncommon for many new renters and homeowners to wonder about fire safety when it comes to a hot water heater. Afterall, this is a large appliance in your home that is working with scalding hot water as well as electricity or an open flame.

Is There a Fire Risk?

Water heaters should not be viewed as a dangerous device, but they can be the cause of a fire if not maintained properly. Staying on top of regular maintenance and annual inspections can keep your water heater in tip top shape and reduce or eliminate the risk of fire it may bring.

Gas vs Electric Water Heaters

There are two types of water heaters; gas and electric. Each can provide ample amounts of warm water for your entire family to enjoy, but both come with their own range of potential fire risks.

It has not yet been agreed upon as to which water heater is safer to install. Both options have their pros and cons, and both can in fact be the source of a fire within your home.

When it comes to a gas powered water heater, the propane or other natural gas that is being used as a power source may leak into your home causing health issues and fire risks. On the other hand, electric powered water heaters may suffer from electrical fires as well as overheating.

Both types of water heaters have many safeguards in place to prevent these issues, but if not maintained or if left neglected for many years, these issues can arise and cause a serious problem.

Fire Safety Tips

There are a number of things you can do with your water heaters to ensure they are in the best condition and are working properly.

Consider annual inspections as your first step. An inspection can give you a heads up on any risks or signs of damage that may be starting to show. This will let you know if repairs or replacement are necessary.

Don’t store anything in your water heater closet. While this unused space may seem like a great place to stack some winter blankets or other items, keeping plenty of open space all around your water heater can prevent overheating as well as reduce the fire hazard.

A number of items should be stored well away from your water heater, especially if it is a gas powered heater with an open pilot flame, though you should never store items near an electric water heater either. These can include:

  • Cardboard boxes or rolls of paper
  • Paint cans
  • Gasoline cans
  • Wooden furniture
  • Plastic bottles or other items