Featured Image Caption: A Person Repairing a Gas Boiler
Most people don’t think much about their water heater, tucked away in a back corner of their house – until it breaks. While initially an inconvenience, a lack of hot water is by far not the only consequence of a broken water heater. The average unit holds up to 80 gallons, which means all that water could potentially be released into your basement, garage, or utility closet in the event of a failure. If your water heater has just broken, here are three things you should do right away.
Shut Off the Power Supply
Contrary to what you may think, your water heater can create a fire hazard if it stays powered on while broken. To prevent a possible fire, the very first thing you should do once your water heater breaks is locate the power supply and shut it off. If your water heater runs on electricity, simply locate the corresponding breaker in your electrical panel and flip the switch. If your heater is gas-powered, you must identify the gas line and twist the knob or lever to cut off its supply. Once the power is off, you’re in the clear for potential fire hazards.
Shut Off the Water
If your water heater continues receiving water, eventually the reservoir will overflow, causing flooding and damage not only to the unit, but to the surrounding area. To get ahead of this issue, the next thing you should do after shutting off the power supply is turn off the water. To do this, locate the plumbing line and turn the valve. Usually, this is found near or on top of the water heater unit. If your plumbing line is also experiencing issues, you will need to contact a professional plumber to prevent further damage to your system.
Drain the Water
At this point, you should drain the remaining water from your water heater. To do this, find the drain valve at the bottom of the unit and attach a hose to it, feeding the other end to an area where the water can drain safely, such as outside in your yard, or in a bucket or tub big enough to collect all of the water. To prevent a vacuum effect from the water leaving the tank, which could result in further damage, activate the pressure release valve on the side of the tank. Usually, it looks like a short pipe with a valve or handle attached to it.
Before initiating the cleanup process, don’t forget to take photos for your home insurance, being sure to note areas of particular damage, wear and tear, or obvious signs of issues with the unit and its installation. It will also be helpful to have a list of trusted plumbers handy to diagnose the problem that caused your water heater to break in the first place. That way, both you and your professional team will have memory of what caused the issue, and how to best resolve it.
Nobody wants their water heater to break, but it is sadly, an inevitability. The above steps are only short-term fixes, and any repairs and replacements should be left to the professionals. Always ensure to assess the situation before it gets any worse, and call for help whenever necessary.
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