Flood damaged water heaters salvaged and reused? The short answer is NO, if you value your property and life.
Flood water makes its way to our door and is visibly on the rise. In a few moments, everything we own is likely to be in jeopardy. We think about heirlooms, legal papers, furniture…and…water heaters? Rarely does saving our major appliances make this gut-level list of items to be saved. Why do we tend to save almost everything before thinking of our washers, dryers, refrigerators and lastly our water heaters?
Likely our minds don’t immediately race to our appliances because they’re heavy and large. Nobody is going to drag a washer up the stairs. But even among our appliances, why such certainty about the flood damaged water heaters?
I submit water heaters have two things going against them.
1) Like other appliances, they are heavy and cumbersome to move.
2) Water heaters are hard wired to our homes in ways few of us understand, and even fewer of us want to disconnect. We know they are usually powered by explosive sources such as natural gas, liquid propane, oil, or electricity—and in addition it is also somehow tied into our plumbing system. Yikes!
All in all, water tanks will be forgotten or avoided until the flood waters recede. Then we stand, staring at the formerly submerged water heater. Do we assume it works fine and try to take a hot shower? No.
Do we try to remove the various connectors and fittings and see if our local hardware store guy can match them, which will fix the problem? No.
Instinctively, most of us know not to tinker with our water heater. It’s a job best left to the pros. To back this up, here are warnings from various official sources telling us the same thing: Flooded water heaters need to be replaced and only trained professionals should do it.
GAMA– (An Association of Appliance & Equipment Manufacturers) Warns that Flood-Damaged Appliances Should Be Replaced.
In a News Release from September 17, 2013 that is Titled “Flood-Damaged Appliances Should Be Replaced, Experts Warn”, they cited the following reasons: “Controls damaged by flood water are extremely dangerous- Attempts to use equipment can result in fires, flashbacks and explosions.”
Even when components seem to be in working order, the unit should not be used after floodwaters ebb. They state, “It may work for a while, but it will deteriorate over time.” It may take a week, a month, or even a year, but once the control has been under water, it presents a serious hazard… fire or explosion in the case of gas controls, fire or shock in the case of electric equipment.”
Rheem Manufacturing also states “Submerged Water Heaters”: “If your water heater(s), gas or electric, has been submerged in water, DO NOT ATTEMPT to repair, install, or operate the product. Due to the conductivity of water along with its corrosive properties all the operational controls are rendered unsafe…The affected water heater(s) should be removed, made unusable, and, replaced with a new unit.”