Hot water tank bracing strapping in Victoria | HANDYMAN SERVICES

Why You Need Earthquake Straps for Your Hot Water Tank


Earthquake Requirements for Your Hot Water Tank

We live in an earthquake zone. That’s the reality of residing in lovely Victoria. The benefits do come with a few risks and dangers. 

Earthquakes come without warning and quickly expose weaknesses that you would never have thought about on a typical nice day. But all those rare events that never cross your mind can be disastrous when they happen. In the case of the toppling of a hot water tank, breaking the pressurized supply pipes can lead to property damage, injuries, and death.

Water heaters are especially vulnerable to the impact of earthquakes. The tanks need to be secured properly or there can be catastrophic consequences. Few people have secured their hot water tanks properly. So what you can do to make sure your water tank can withstand seismic convulsions?

How Earthquakes Can Cause Water Heater Damage

The earth moves in an earthquake (you already knew that, right?). It moves a lot. Up and down, side to side, back and forth. People can barely stand up. How do expect a heavy tank to? And one full of water at that. There can be up to a ton of water in a tank (seriously, there can). All that violent movement can tip an unsecured water heater and cause it to topple right over. The mass and size of the beast means it's definitely going to damage everything it knocks into.

Natural gas makes it worse

But if you happen to have a natural gas water tank, well, an even greater concern is the risk of fire. The inertia of a falling water heater can rupture the gas supply lines, and where does all that pressurized gas go? It fills your basement, that’s where it goes. The pilot flame of the water heater itself then has a good chance of igniting all that gas, starting a fire that rapidly spreads to all those National Geographics and old boots you’ve never thrown out.

In the aftermath of the 6.7-magnitude Northridge quake that struck the San Fernando Valley in 1994, there were at least 110 fires, many traced to gas ignitions caused by toppled water heaters. In some cases water heaters were strapped, but inadequately (not to code).

British Columbia, BC Building Code 2012 requirements now match California’s stringent seismic code. And the code says, “all water heaters shall be supported and strapped to prevent movement during an earthquake.” (California Plumbing Code Section 507.2)

So if you can see that your tank isn’t anchored at all, or perhaps the existing strapping looks a bit weak, it’s time to do something about that. 

Remember, it’s only a matter of time. When that big earthquake comes, and all those aftershocks, a poor water heater installation is going to cause catastrophic damage. Failure to comply with the bracing requirements mandated by law could even result in issues with your insurance claim. Insurance companies don’t make money giving it all away without a fight. They investigate everything.

In addition to bracing water heaters with earthquake straps, you should consider installing flexible supply lines to the water tank that can twist and bend with the motion of a quake. A really great idea.


You need a handyman.

Absolution Handyman Services  -  serving  Downtown Victoria, James Bay, Fairfield, Oak Bay, and Uplands


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