Water Heater

Secure Your Water Heater

Water heaters can topple over during earthquakes, causing gas and water leaks, and even fires. Here is how to prevent this:

  • First, check that your gas and water pipes have flexible connectors. Ask a plumber to replace these if needed.
  • Prevent the tank from tipping backwards by making sure it is within 2” of the wall. If necessary, reduce a larger gap by attaching a wooden block to the vertical “studs” within the wall behind the water heater (use a stud finder to determine where to screw).
  • Purchase a special kit with metal straps at a hardware store or online. Place each strap as shown in the image; start at the back of the tank, bring each strap to the front and then back to the wall.
  • Connect each strap to wall studs (or the wood block) using screws provided in the kit. If securing into concrete, use 1/4″ expansion bolts.

Click here to download a printable version of these instructions.


The unbraced water heater in this home fell during an earthquake; the resulting fire destroyed the home.

This unstrapped water heater tipped over during the 1984 Morgan Hill Earthquake. Fortunately gas and water lines were not ruptured.

How-to Resources

  • Your local home improvement store
  • How to Brace Your Water Heater, City of Los Angeles, Department of Building & Safety, Information Bulletin #P/PC 2002-003, June 14, 1999.
  • Guidelines for Earthquake Bracing of Residential Water Heaters, Department of General Services, Division of State Architect, August 11, 2004.
  • How to Secure Your Water Heater, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, 2003.