With the recent string of earthquakes around the world, it's time to start preparing your home for possible rumblings. This is particularly important if you live in earthquake territory. You probably know to secure your tall furniture, and to have a way to turn off your natural gas supply. However, you might not realize that some of your plumbing will require earthquake-proofing, and special care after an earthquake. In fact, it's a plumbing device that you might not even think about when earthquakes come to mind, but it should. It's your water heater, and it's particularly susceptible to earthquake damage. In fact, if it tips over, or explodes, it could cause serious burns to you or your family members. Here are three steps you should take to protect your home and family from hazards associated with your water heater.
Strap it Down
When it comes to preparing your water heater for an earthquake, the most important step you can take is to strap it down. Use a water heater restraint to secure your water heater to the studs in your home. Wrap the restraint system completely around the tank at least once, and then use heavy-duty screws to secure the restraint to the walls. Be sure that the screws go directly into the studs to ensure absolute security of your water heater.
Clear a Space
Once you've secured the water heater, you'll need to clear a space around the tank. Your water heater can become combustible after an earthquake, especially if the pilot light stays ignited, and the gas line ruptures. To prevent serious fires, you should make sure that you don't store combustible materials, including flammable liquids, or material around your tank. It's also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher next to your water heater.
Turn it Off
If you experience an earthquake, the first thing you should do is make sure that you and your family are safe. Once the earth stops shaking, and your family is safe, you should head to the water heater and turn it off. If you've got an electric water heater, unplug it from the wall, and turn the pilot light off. If you have a gas water heater, turn the gas supply off to the unit, and turn the pilot light igniter switch to the off position. Leave the water heater off until you can have it inspected by a plumber.
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