Before we jump into water heaters…
As our Missouri based technician, James, prepares to return to his home state, our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by the massive floods and tornadoes across the Midwest. Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma have been experiencing tornadoes and flooding which has traversed the Midwest (as far north as the Dakotas and as far west as Nebraska) since March. Here’s how YOU can help!: The Red Cross provides communities with temporary shelters, water, and other supplies. You can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800 RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. The Missouri Farm Bureau is a non-profit organization which seeks to provide resources for students, FFA chapters, and agricultural education departments via donations. If you are unable to donate, please consider sharing a donation link via social media or volunteering for the Red Cross or other organizations.
With the majority of water heaters in the Midwest located in basements, flooding can often be the main culprit of the loss of hot water (the photo on the right shows a beautiful sunrise along an ice filled Des Plaines River in Illinois, whose surrounding areas often experience basement flooding). Whether it’s a natural disaster or a plumbing accident in your home, it is important to know that ANY type of flooding is NOT going to be covered by your manufacturer’s warranty (you can find a complete list of things that constitute a void of warranty inside your unit’s installation manual). Our technicians have seen it all: from units that suffered from heavy rains/flooding and had to be replaced to units that were covered in feces due to toilet overflow and other plumbing issues. The manufacturer’s warranty does not cover flooding because it is viewed as an unforeseen circumstance that is outside of the manufacturer’s control. If you live in an area that is likely to experience severe flooding, you should review your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if your water heater is covered. If not, you may want to consider purchasing flooding insurance, as water heaters are often considered necessary appliances and tend to be covered (please be sure to check with your potential provider PRIOR to purchase).
If you may have a flood damaged water heater, most service providers will not be able to service your unit, instead recommending a replacement. If you choose to move forward with a replacement, it is imperative that your basement has had the opportunity to dry out and that the flood water has seceded. Service providers follow a list of safety based rules (provided by A.O. Smith and other manufacturers, as well as the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute). and will not provide service in a site that is flooded due to the possibility of unsafe chemicals and waste that may be present in the flood water.
Although it is not recommended, in the event that your unit is not covered via insurance and you want to investigate on your own, please do so with your safety in mind and full understanding that any negative consequences are not the manufacturers’ or potential service providers’ liability. Once the unit and surrounding area have been dried out, be sure to turn off the shutoffs to the unit (even if you are not planning to DIY your unit). Following the appropriate safety precautions, you are likely to find that your unit’s burner, gas valve, and/or ignitor need to be replaced. As previously mentioned, a warranty service provider will not be able to provide service according to safety regulations, but may be able to provide you with a verbal walk through. Otherwise, a local plumber may be able to install the parts for you.