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California Water Heaters And Earthquakes

Is Your California Water Heater Safe from Earthquakes

Earthquake strapping a water heater is critical in California, where earthquakes are a regular occurrence. From Los Angeles and San Diego, to San Francisco and Sacramento, earthquake damage in homes and businesses can happen without warning, and most of  us don’t think about our water heater’s safety before an earthquake.

In California, the law requires that your gas or electric water heater must be properly attached to a wall, so that it will not fall or tilt to mush during an earthquake event and lead to a fire or a flood of your home. All homes, multi-family properties, offices, apartments and public buildings are required to have their water heater strapped securely.

In the first water heater photo, the water heater is NOT properly strapped and in the event of an earthquake will freely move / shake from side to side.

However in the second water heater photo, this water heater, on the other hand, is properly strapped. As you can see, it will have little, to no side-to-side movement in the event of an earthquake. It will also not fall off it’s platform.

After an earthquake the water heater also holds available cooking and drinking water in the event of an extended power outage. The new laws regarding strapping help to keep the tanks in place and strapping types and attachment hardware rules have been upgraded for safety since the Loma Prieta quake of 1989 and the Northridge earthquake of 1994.

If your water heater is older, you will want to have it inspected by a professional water heater installer to ensure that you have the current and safe strapping that is necessary. The correct connectors and lines can be installed and strapping and wall attachments can be upgraded.

Things To Know About Water Heater Strapping

  • 30, 40 & 50 gallon water heaters require 2 straps
  • 75 & 80 gallon water heaters require 3 straps
  • 100 gallon water heaters require 4 straps
  • Strapping must be placed properly- the top 1/3 and the lower 1/3 of the water heater must be strapped to prevent rocking and tipping.

If you would like to inspect your water heater earthquake strapping yourself and find out if it is current to California law, earthquakecountry.org offers some good tips for proper attachment.  https://www.earthquakecountry.org/step1/waterheater/

Water Heaters Only, Inc. has installed thousands of water heaters to California earthquake code standards, and we are happy to help you secure your water heater, for the safety of your family and your neighborhood.

After a quake, you want to check your water heater strapping, and be assured that there is no gas lines leaking that can start a devastating fire and burn your home, as well as checking that the water heater has not fallen over and leaking water lines have flooded your home, resulting in costly repairs.  With proper earthquake strapping, your home will be much less likely to be devastated by an unfortunate water heater issue due to earthquake tilting.

These are 2 large commercial water heaters in a basement. One is strapped, but not properly and the other one is not strapped at all. This is a disaster waiting to happen, at least the tank with straps is less likely to cause a major gas leak, than the one with no straps. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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