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Unsecure water heaters are likely to fall over during Earthquakes, rupturing rigid water and gas connections! A water heater must have two or three straps that wrap completely around it and screw into studs of the wall in order to be properly braced. How can you tell if your water heater is secure?

Here’s everything you need to know about protecting your home from water heater damage caused by seismic reaction.

Is your water heater safe from earthquakes?

“Seismic” – What?

Earthquakes are often defined as ground vibrations related to the sudden slip of a fault plane, releasing stored elastic energy. The release of elastic energy associated with earthquakes generates seismic waves that resonate through the Earth. These seismic waves are measured to monitor the earthquake and other ground vibrations.

Earthquakes in Southern Utah?!

St. George, Utah has an average of 45 seismic reactions ever year!

This means that the “435” is hit with vibrations to its earth roughly three times each month, causing the ground to shift… and water heaters to tilt. If the water heater moves too much, broken or cracked water lines may leak, causing damage to the floors and walls, and possibly setting fire to a home.

In addition to the water damage that occurs, shifting of the water heater may cause gas lines to rupture, creating immediate safety concerns. If the water heater is electric, the conduit may come apart, exposing live wires.

Local building codes require water heater installations be laterally braced with earthquake straps to resist seismic forces. Before deciding on a retrofit method, read the checklist below and give us a call to make sure your home is safe!

Are you secure?

  • Is the water heater free-standing?
  • Are there straps or other types of restraints securing the water heater?
  • Are there straps or restraints bolted to the studs?
  • If the water heater is secured, was it completed properly by a licensed plumber using updated recommendations?
  • Are there flexible pipes for water and gas connected to the water heater?

Are you strapped?

Figuring out which straps to use for your water heater is easier than it sounds with the estimates laid out below. Calling ST George Water Heaters to speak with a licensed plumber is also a quick and easy way to determine these requirements:

  • Water heaters with up to 52 gallons generally require two straps
  • Water heaters holding 53 to 75 gallons may require three straps in certain building jurisdictions.
  • Water heaters 76 to 100 gallons may require three, or four straps in certain building jurisdictions.

Should the straps be over or under a water heater blanket?

There are some building jurisdictions that require the straps to be under a water heater blanket (if there is a water heater blanket). A quick call to the local building jurisdiction will answer this question, and insulted blankets can be found at any local home-builder’s store.

The solution!

For strapping, we recommend a licensed plumber install the water heater. We will install flexible, copper water connectors and flexible gas cables as well, which is important for earthquake safety. Other options include doing it yourself by purchasing an installation kit from your local hardware store.

Don’t forget! A water heater can cost $500 or more to replace after an earthquake, but the damage will cost significantly more if a home fire or flood happens due to your water heater not being strapped properly! Straps should be checked annually. Schedule an appointment today to protect your home tomorrow!