Safety & Gas Water Heaters
It is a bit scary how often we get calls with people inquiring about how their gas water heaters work. The reason it’s scary is because when one is working with boiling hot water and gas the risk of scalding oneself and/or an explosion is present. It is clear to us at times that some of our callers really don’t understand how their heater works and truly requires a licensed, professional Ottawa Plumber to pay a visit and explain things for safety reasons. Our Ottawa Plumbing Company has always strived for a safety first policy and we often share our knowledge in an effort to provide good practices and safety measures around the house.
Within this article we have chosen to address the questions we are often called about, but first we will make one loud, front and center safety comment:
IF YOU FIDDLE WITH YOUR GAS WATER HEATER BY YOURSELF – TURN THE GAS OFF FIRST !!!
How Do Gas Water Heaters Work?
Gas water heaters heat up water by using a burner inside the tank at the center of its bottom. Once the water has reached your desired temperature the burner simply shuts down. Factors you may want to consider before setting your water temperature are the amount of people using the water every day and how often, as well as the size of your home.
Gas water heaters can use both Natural or Propane gas. The gas is ignited through the use of a pilot light, and a flame trap is a built in safety feature that supplies combustible air. Gas Water Heaters need to exhaust carbon dioxide fumes outside the home. This is achieved by the exhaust going through a flue to the outdoors.
My Gas Water Heater Burner Will Not Ignite
This is the most common problem we are asked about and it usually is a result of a gas water heater’s safety device malfunctioning. The device senses when your pilot light is on which will trigger the gas heater to turn on. If your safety device is broken it may not be sensing your pilot light is on so it will trigger the gas valve to shut down because it thinks it’s off. If this is the case, it is a simple repair and can be taken care of quickly for you.
The other scenario is if your safety device is working then there is an issue with your gas control valve. You need to pay close attention to this because this valve cannot be repaired; a professional plumber will need to replace it.
What is That Clicking Noise?
When you hear a clicking noise your water heater is telling you something. That noise is generally caused by a buildup of sediment that has pooled at the bottom of your water heater. This buildup of sediment should not be ignored. It is preventing the water heater from warming up the water efficiently and has been known to cause overheating. This issue is however an easy fix. The tank should be drained and refilled to remove the sediment. We recommend that you call a plumbing expert to come and flush out your gas water heater annually, the best time we feel is during the fall before the cold sets in.
Why Am I Using So Much Gas?
The scariest call of all is this one. If you notice you have been using a lot of gas, it more than likely means that you have a leak. This means the water heater either requires a repair right away or it need to be replaced altogether. A leaking water heater is a serious problem as you may be risking property damage and your water heater is now a safety hazard. As soon as you notice more gas than normal is being used, call a trained plumbing professional for immediate attention.
While waiting for the plumber to arrive, here are some things you can do to keep you and your family safe:
- Turn off the power supply to your water heater right away
- Turn off the water supply. NOTE: Before closing the valve, be certain that you can get to it safely without coming in contact with any water
- Try and locate the source of the leak; a plumber would know the source of the leak immediately once onsite, but if you are able to describe the location over the phone in advance it will aid in preparing for the severity of your problem and whether it sounds like an easy repair or if an entire replacement will most likely be the outcome.
Checking for Leaks
Here is a list of common spots on your gas water heater where you can check for leaks:
- Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves: Located on the side of the tank; you will see a pipe running down the heater to the floor
- Heater Drain Valve: Located near the bottom of the tank
- Cold Water Inlet and Hot Water Outlet Connections: this is a simple fix that often only requires tightening a loose connection
- Bottom Of The Tank: If this is where the leak is coming from your gas water heater then you have an internal issue that will require that your gas water heater be replaced.
We really do believe in a safety first policy and this is definitely an area we cannot stress enough to be careful. We are always pleased to provide all kinds of plumbing knowledge to help you with DIY projects that will save you money; this is not one of those projects. Situations that have to do with something such as gas need to be dealt with by licensed professionals to ensure the work is done properly so any safety hazards pertaining to your gas water heater are back up to par. Our Ottawa Plumbing Company possesses a gas license and trained gas technicians who can come at a moment’s notice and take care of whatever is ailing your gas water heater safely and efficiently. Do Not Delay – You’ll Be Glad You Called!