Middlebury man injured in water heater accident

ELKHART, Ind.-- A Middlebury man is in the hospital after he improperly handled a water heater in his home over the weekend. The Clinton Township Fire Chief says he was trying to refuel his water heater when he put too much in. The gas ignited leaving him with second and third degree burns on his face and hands.


So ABC 57 looked into how you can prevent this type of injury in your home.


“What the problem is, is if people are trying to light this with too much fuel in there, that’s how people get burned ,” Bruce Shreiner, President of Shreiner and Sons, Inc.


Shreiner says you should never plug your gas valve.

“If they start dripping, some people think well this is dripping, let’s plug it off. That turns it into a rocket, so you don’t ever want to plug the relief, you want to shut the water off, get a new relief, put it on,” Shreiner said.


With more than 30 years in the business, Shreiner says he has seen his fair share of water heaters. Now, with more safety features, some take a little more maintenance.


“When these get plugged and you can get make up air, that will also shut this burner down, so there’s more ways of having problems with water heaters today than like the old ones,” Shreiner said.


Tip number two. Vacuum out the vents at least once a year.


“If they are in a laundry room and it’s not vented to the outside and there’s just lint everywhere, or they have say a lot of cats or dogs, they can plug up in less than a year,” Shreiner said.


Anything outside of your basic maintenance, Shreiner suggests you leave to the pros.


“You need to call a professional, they’ve been trained in this , they’ve gone through apprenticeship school, they’ve worked on these heaters every day, they install them every day, they know how to do it safely,” Shreiner said.


Another simple tip that could save homeowners from serious injury is to simply read the instruction manual, according to experts at Shreiner and Sons. They say surprisingly, many don't read the directions before trying to fix it themselves.

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