How to Earthquake-Proof Your Water Heater

When you earthquake proof your home, you shouldn’t forget about the water heater. The water heater may easily fall during an earthquake and if this is disconnected from the gas source, you will be dealing with a gas leak, which will be an additional risk during a calamity. Fire or an explosion may follow a gas leak and to avoid this, you need to fasten your water heater.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Tether straps
  • Stud finder
  • Lag bolts
  • Washers
  • Drill
  • Wrench
  • Bendable gas pipe
  • Tubing cutter
  • Solder iron
  • Repair coupling
  • Gas shut off kit

Step 1 – Turn off Gas

Before you start any work on your water heater, make sure you turn off the gas, so that you avoid any possible gas leaks. It’s also easier to work with an empty water tank, so empty it. If needed, you may use a water hose and a pump.

Step 2 – Make Measurements

Find the studs in the wall near the heater and mark these. Then, using a tape measure, obtain the height of the water heater. Mark the wall at the top and bottom of the water heater and then divide the area in 3 equal parts.

Step 3 – Cut the Straps

Measure the circumference of the water heater tank. Add 3 inches and cut the tether straps to this size. Cut the second strap as well.

Step 4 – Bolt the Straps

The tether straps will be located at the 1/3 and 2/3 level markings from the top. Get the first strap, which will be bolted to the studs in the wall behind the water heater using a drill. Make sure that the tether strap is perpendicular to the wall behind the water heater. 

Bolt the second strap as well, putting this at the 2/3 marking from the top of the water heater.

Step 5 – Replace Gas Pipe

A bendable gas pipe is more practical and may be more recommended when you earthquake proof your home, as during an earthquake, the water heater may move and the gas pipe should move along to prevent gas leaks.

Step 6 – Put a Gas Shut Off Valve

A gas shut off valve can be practical, as you can control gas leaks. Get a tubing cutter to cut the water pipes that bring cold and hot water into the heater (the heater should be empty when you do so).

Detach the flue from the water heater. The catch pan should be placed under the heater. Put pipe dope to the threads of gas line, which will prevent gas leaks. Reconnect the gas line and the flue. Use the solder iron to apply a repair coupling on the hot water pipe and then attach thread adapters to the cold water pipe. Attach the automatic shut off valve on the cold water pipe. The sensor from the automatic shut off kit goes into the valve and then put the float in the catch pan. Check if the shut off works after turning the water and gas back on.