Perhaps you’ve noticed the warning signs: Rusty water at every turn of the hot-water spigot, rumbling or banging sounds from the basement, and a slow-growing pool of water at the base of the tank. Left untended, those signs can lead to the one sound every homeowner dreads: The gurgling, rushing sound of water filling up your basement because your water heater has burst.
In such an emergency, what should you do?
Stop The Tsunami
Stopping the onslaught of water is the first step. Wade to your water tank and locate the cold water supply pipe, which feeds water from the main pipe into the tank. The supply pipe valve shuts automatically when the tank is filled, but a burst tank can never be filled. Manually turn the valve until it’s closed tight. If the water doesn’t stop flowing, turn off your home’s main water supply valve.
Cut The Power
The heating element in your tank is supposed to be surrounded by water at all times. If left on, but unsubmerged, it can pose a fire hazard as it tries to heat up the surrounding air to shower water temperature.
If you have an electric-powered tank, switch off the dedicated breaker at the home’s electrical box. If you have a gas-powered tank, close the valve to the gas line leading to the tank. If you smell gas in the room, leave the building immediately until the gas dissipates.