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Water Heater Flooding: Causes, Effects, and Restoration Tips

Knowing the causes of water heater flooding, its effects, and what to do to restore the water damage, will help you be prepared if it ever happens to you. Protecting your valuable home or office gives you peace of mind, and here are some important things to look out for and be aware of to prevent the need for a water heater overflow cleanup.

Flood from Water Heater Overflow or Leaks

Water damage from a water heater flood is one of the more damaging indoor flooding events that can happen. This is partially because water heaters and boilers are mostly located in infrequently visited areas of the home like the basement or utility room closet. If a leak or burst does happen, the tenant or home owner may not discover the problem until after the water damage has already occurred. In the event of a disaster as this, remain calm, turn off the heater and water, and call a water damage restoration company near you.

Water heater flooding

Causes of Water Heater Leaks

Life Span

Water heater leaks and flooding often occur because of the age of a tank. Older tanks with rust or worn-out seals or gaskets could pose a risk of water damage. Old tanks also have the potential of bursting or exploding, which can be a violent and extremely dangerous incident if anyone is unfortunate enough to be within the immediate vicinity of the blast. Leaks, however, are the more common issue and have the potential to flood a large portion of the home if left undetected for days.

Corrosion and Rust

Leaks can flood your basement a little at a time, and usually happens when one of the tank’s fittings are corroded, rusted, or damaged. This gap allows water to escape, but it is not as violent as a burst tank. That being said, it should be taken care of as quickly as possible because it can be equally destructive to property and pose a risk to the health of humans as well. Call a professional water damage company and they will take all the necessary steps to correct the problem.

Thermostat Malfunctions

One of the most common reasons for a water heater burst is due to a malfunctioning thermostat. This apparatus is used to measure the heat levels inside the tank to know when to shut off or turn on the heating elements to maintain the desired temperature. If the thermostat is broken or malfunctioning, it cannot accurately tell how hot or cold the water inside the tank is. A burst tank or exploding tank can occur if the heating element stays on, causing the water inside the tank to boil. As the water boils, it evaporates into a hot steam and builds internal pressure. If this pressure gets too much, the tank will not be able to hold the pressure, causing a burst.

Effects of a Water Heater Overflow/Leaks

In the stages of a water heater overflow or leak, hot water pours out, which can hurt people and damage objects nearby. After a few hours when the water cools and builds up, it can soak nearby furniture, flooring, draperies, and appliances. If the water damage isn’t remedied soon, mould spores can form and dangerous electric dangers could result if the water seeps into outlets or live wires, creating fire and electrocution hazards. The standing water can cause rusting of metal objects, and even after draining, pockets of moisture that are unseen can remain and weaken materials, such as wood, and trigger the growth of harmful bacteria.

Things to Do if Your Water Heater Leaks/Overflows

There’s no harm in taking extra precaution and monitoring your basement or attic appliances such as the water heater on a regular basis. If, however, something does go wrong, here are some basic steps to take after you’ve called the water damage company.

Wear Protective Clothing

Put on rubber boots, gloves, and googles, and if the water is rushing out of the heater, wear a raincoat for extra safety.

Carefully Survey the Area

Check that the water on the floor is not too hot so you don’t get scalded. If the room is full of steam, do not go near the water. If you cannot see well, do not enter the room; look around for outlets or wires that are submerged or touching the water. This will prevent you from getting shocked.

Turn Off the Water Supply

If the area is safe to enter, find the cold-water pipe that sends water into the heater and turn the valve clockwise until it won’t twist anymore. Normally when the tank is full the water supply will shut itself off, but due to the leak, the tank will not fill up and the water will continue to run.

Turn Off the Heating ASAP

If the cause of the water damage is a malfunctioning thermostat, the heating element will not turn off on its own. This leaking of water and energy could possibly start a fire. Depending on your home, your heater may be powered by electricity or natural gas. You should immediately evacuate your home and call *311 in Ontario to contact your local municipal services and then call your local water damage company.

Document the Incident

If there is no sign of gas or immediate danger, take photographs of parts of the area or of items in the area that may have been damaged by the water. Take notes on everything you remember from the incident as it will aid you and the professionals in filing an insurance claim.

Professional Water Damage Repair and Clean-Up Services

If you’re looking for professional water damage repair and clean-up services in Brampton, Flood Services Canada can help you. Flood Services Canada is an experienced flood restoration contractor that stands ready to provide quick-response flood clean-up services across the GTA and will use the best techniques, personnel, and technology to ensure your home or business is clean, safe, and dry as soon as possible. Our 24/7 emergency response team can be reached at (416) 999-3930.

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Chad Vanvari

Chad Vanvari has over 20 years of experience as a cleaning & restoration professional. He started out in Montreal, establishing a commercial carpet cleaning company in the early 1990’s. By 2001, Chad had relocated to Toronto and now had extensive knowledge and experience in responding to fire/water related emergencies. He has been instrumental in the cleanup of several catastrophic floods. Currently, Chad is the president and owner of Flood Services Canada, a 24/7 emergency service restoration company.