How to Keep Hot Water Heaters From Catching on Fire

A hot water heater is an essential appliance that heats your water for showers, laundry and doing the dishes. Although hot water heaters require minimal care, the proper attention will keep them from catching on fire. Choosing the correct settings and routine maintenance will not only keep your heater in good shape, but will also protect you and your family from a potential fire hazard.

The proper maintenance will keep your hot water heater safe.
  1. Set your hot water heater's temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that temperature may cause the heater to overheat and catch on fire.
  2. Flush out hot water through the drain valve once per year to reduce the build-up of sediment in your tank. Turn off the heater's electricity. Attach a garden hose to the valve and use the pump to drain water into a bucket. Fill the heater with water. Repeat the process until there is no more sediment in the bucket. Disconnect the hose and pump, and turn the electricity back on to resume use.
  3. Move any flammable or combustible material away from the hot water heater.
  4. Test the safety release valve once per year by following your heater's instruction manual.
  5. Schedule an annual inspection by a hot water heater expert.

Things You Will Need

  • Garden hose
  • Pump
  • Bucket


  • Before buying a hot water heater, choose one that is the correct size for your home. When on vacation, turn heater down to lowest setting.

About the Author

David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images