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Basement water heater raises flood concern

Homeowner fears catastrophe if unit breaks down

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Q: In my 1938 home, I have a square well or sub-basement about 10 feet by 7 feet by 4 feet deep (a box). I step down two steps into this small area. My problem is, my water heater is here, strapped and on a 2-foot-high platform. The furnace is right next to the heater. There is no drain and putting one in is not practical, although I have not talked to a plumber or contractor about this. If my water heater, which is 6 years old, breaks down and I have a flood, I would lose my furnace. What suggestion could you give me to protect myself? A: It's true that on exceedingly rare occasions water heaters can fail catastrophically, causing a 30- to 60-gallon flood. However, a 6-year-old water heater should not do this. We're certain the heater is equipped with a pressure-relief valve and is warranted for at least five years. Kevin's heater has a five-year warranty and is going on 13 years of service without showing any sign of giving up the ghost. When Bill changed from oil to forced-air gas h...