If your basement or home flooded with 6 inches of water or more, would you reuse anything that had been on the floor? Probably not. However, some plumbers and water heater technicians believe that flood-damaged water heaters are able to be repaired and reused. Is that true? Can a flood-damaged water heater be reconditioned, and function just like before a flood? Before answering those questions, let’s take a look at what happens to a water heater in a flood.
1. The pilot light goes out
With gas water heaters, a pilot light automatically ignites to reheat the water in the tank when the temperature drops below a certain level. Pilot lights feature a small valve that opens to let gas into a chamber where an electronic ignitor lights the gas. When this part of a water heater is submerged in a flood, water penetrates the electronic ignitor and its components, plus it may also enter the chamber where the gas flows. Igniting the pilot light after a flood can be dangerous because the wet ignitor components could spark, causing an electrical short (putting your power out) or starting a fire. Even worse, if water seeps into the gas chamber and travels into the gas line, lighting the pilot could cause an explosion.
2. The controls become submerged
When a water heater’s controls are underwater even for a short time, damage can occur to the tank’s control valve (gas) or thermostat (electric). Both of these controls feature electronic and electrical components that can short out when they are submerged or take on moisture. As well, electric water heaters have heating elements connected to AC wiring. If the wiring becomes saturated with water from a flood, a short or fire could result.
3. Water leaks into the insulation
Hot water tanks have a layer of insulation that lies between the layers of steel and glass that form the tank. Submerged water heater tanks may take in water through seams in the steel on the bottom and side of the tank. When the insulation becomes saturated with water from a flood, the tank could rust from the inside, causing the tank to eventually leak and flood the area where it sits.
When you put together the complexities of the damage that a flood-damaged water heater takes on, you can see that attempting to repair it could be costly, ineffective, and dangerous. So, the answer to the question about whether they’re safe or not is a resounding “No.” Don’t attempt to repair or have anyone else repair a flood-damaged water heater. Consider it scrap, replace it with a new water heater, and install the new water heater 6 inches or more off the floor to avoid damage in any future floods. In addition to repairing a flood-damaged water heater being very dangerous, manufacturers will not warranty and or recommend fixing flooded heaters. They too realize the potential danger to you and your family from the most used appliance in the home should it malfunction after a flood.
Have questions about your water heater or other plumbing issues? You can trust the professionals at Schlueter Plumbing. Make an appointment today online or call us today at 513-771-7588 for all your plumbing needs.