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Natural Gas Water Heaters - Safety and Maintenance

Natural Gas Water HeatersYour natural gas water heater requires very little maintenance to keep it running safely and reliably for many years. Reading the manufacturer’s instructions for specific operating and maintenance procedures is essential.

Know where your water supply valve and gas valve are on your water heater. In case of a leak you can turn the water and gas burner off promptly. Ensure your gas valve is turned off whenever you turn the water supply off.

Hint: the water supply valve is usually on the cold water pipe near the top of the tank. The valve looks like a tap and may need to be turned several times to shut off the cold water. The gas valve can usually be found on the gas black or copper piping that comes vertically down to the bottom of the unit. A small wrench will be needed to give the valve a ¼ turn.

Here are some basic guidelines to prevent water heater problems:

  • keep the area around your water heater clean as any dust, lint or sawdust can block the air intakes at the bottom of the tank and impair its operation

  • do not insulate your water pipes within 6 inches (15 cm) of the exhaust vent or flue at the top of the tank as it could slip and cover a control or air intake

If you are installing a new water heater it is recommended that you have an anti-scald mixing valve on your water heater or a thermostatic valve on each hot water tap and showerhead in the home.

Troubleshooter – My water heater is leaking
A leaking water heater needs to be replaced or repaired promptly, the more pronounced a leak becomes the more likely permanent damage is.

Ensure that you turn off the water and gas supply through the shut off valves. Unplug the water heater if it is a power vent unit.

If you rent, call your service provider, the benefit of renting is that you do not have to worry about breakdowns, repairs or the cost of labour.

If you own your water heater, contact the store where you purchased the unit or find a qualified contractor.