Do you live in a seismically active area? Here in the greater Los Angeles area, we often get questions on securing the hot water tank as an emergency preparation.
Did you know that after the 1994 Northridge (Los Angeles) earthquake experts modified the recommended procedure for strapping water heaters? Turns out that during the 1989 San Francisco quake and the 1994 Northridge quake many tanks that were secured still managed to topple over. The recommended adjustments were to 1) place straps at both the top and bottom of the tank, not just one or the other, or the middle and 2) use heavy-gauge metal strapping instead of plumbers tape.
And speaking of emergencies… in an emergency your hot water tank is an excellent source of fresh water for your family, if it remains standing that is!
The big question is how do you get the water out?
First, remember the water may be extremely hot so protect yourself against splashing water. If you need just a small amount, you can open the drain valve slowly and put water into a suitable heat-proof container. If you need to drain the whole tank, you should let the tank cool for a few hours. Perhaps you have shut your gas off already due to the emergency, but if not, turn the valve to ‘pilot’ and wait a few hours before draining large quantities of water.
Cleaning Hot Water Heater
You should also turn off the cold water supply to the tank to avoid adding any potentially contaminated water as a result of the emergency (like an earthquake.) When it’s time, open a hot water faucet inside the house and then open the drain on the tank to let the water out. You can attach a garden hose to the spout if you want, or capture the water into an appropriate container.
Another thing to consider is the sediment that may be inside your hot water heater. Over time sediment forms from any solid material that doesn’t get dissolved. Plus minerals can build up in the bottom of the tank. Material dissolves more readily in hot water than cold. This being said, any water that you may drain from your hot water tank may be contaminated with sediment impurities.
So please take necessary precautions for purifying water. For the highest quality water, you should flush your tank occasionally. Look for our future blog post on how to do this effectively.
We hope we have educated you a bit on hot water heater safety and that you will make sure to properly secure your hot water heater. If you should need assistance with that maintenance, Reckon and Reckon Plumbing, Inc. is here to help! Give us a call to schedule an appointment today so you can rest easy knowing you’ve done the proper emergency preparation.