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Water Heaters and Earthquakes Don’t Mix

Where we live, we’re at a high risk for earthquakes. Seismologists tell us that we are vulnerable for another earthquake, and although we don’t know when this will happen, we must be prepared.

We’ve been warned to earthquake-proof our homes, which includes securing top-heavy furniture, using straps to secure large appliances, keeping heavy storage on low shelves, and securing high cabinet doors. While this list is not exhaustive, there’s something else that should be on the list that almost never is.

Unfortunately, most of us forget about securing our water heaters. We get it: they’re usually stowed safely away behind a closet door, and it looks like it’s securely attached and will not move. It seems to pose less of a risk than the other appliances in our homes do. But that’s not true.

Earthquake Proofing Your Water Heater Can Save Your Life

Though it may not look like it, water heaters are actually top heavy. Not only that, but they contain a large volume of extremely hot water—very dangerous if an earthquake occurs. During an earthquake, your water heater can tear off the wall, breaking the hot water lines and fuel lines that are connected to it. If this happens, you won’t have water, and worse, you’ll be leaking gas.

If this happens, you could end up with huge property damage, including electrical wiring damage, not to mention damage from the leaking gas in a fire or explosion. The point? Go check your water heater to see if it is braced or strapped securely. If it’s not, call us or follow these steps.

How to Secure Your Water Heater:

  1. Turn off the gas to the water heater.
  2. Locate and mark the two studs in the wall behind the water heater.
  3. Measure the water heater’s height. Mark the point that is 1/3 of the way down from the top and mark the next point that is 1/3 from the bottom. These are the points where the straps will be.
  4. Measure the strap by wrapping it horizontally around the pipe from the first stud attachment to the second and cut the strap to this length.
  5. Cut a second strap of the same length.
  6. Bolt the first strap to the first stud and wrap it around the heater tightly to meet the second stud.
  7. Repeat step 6 for the lower strap.
  8. You can also replace the gas pipe with a flex pipe if needed.