Although water heater tanks are becoming an essential part of everyday households, they can be highly hazardous. A water heater explosion becomes probable if such devices are not managed. But both electric and gas water heaters are relatively safe to use, particularly if they are treated properly.
In addition, most versions come with warning alarms and detectors that can help in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or a carbon monoxide leak. If you have any concerns about the condition of your water heater or have found something suspicious that hints at a water heater explosion, always contact a licensed professional for service.
In this article, we cover the first signs of trouble and causes for an explosion. We hope this information will prove effective and that you won’t be needing to worry about a blast.
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Causes of Water Heater Explosion
A water heater explosion may occur for a variety of reasons, but the most common cause is excessive heat or improper installation. Steam is generated when the water in the tank is overheated. This in turn creates internal tank pressure. Steam tends to take up more room, so the tank fills up fast.
Other factors that can contribute to the explosion include:
- The temperature and pressure relief valve, as the name suggests, is designed to release excessive pressure and heat. Both pressure and temperature may build-up due to ill-fitting or damaged valves, resulting in an explosion.
- Tank degradation or corrosion can not only lead to an explosion by causing the internal pressure and temperature to rise, but it can also trigger the heater to split and swamp your house. Whether it’s an old heater or a faulty valve, both may cause problems if they aren’t repaired right away.
- The most number of home-heating fire deaths (over 54%), according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is caused by combustibles or flammable materials being put too close to the heat source. Click here to read more such stats.
- Other causes of water heater fires include mechanical or electrical problems (or gas line failure for gas heaters), a worn-out heater, and human error.
Signs of Water Heater Failure
Now that you understand what causes water heaters to become potentially hazardous, you should also be knowledgeable about the various signs your device will show. Water heaters will have problems from time to time, but there are a few warning signs that you should be aware of because they may highlight a bigger (and potentially life-threatening) issue.
When it comes to the possibility of an explosion, these are what to look out for:
1. Rotten Egg Smell
The smell of gas leaking from your water heater is usually overwhelming, like that of rotten eggs or sulfur. If you encounter such a smell, particularly near your water heater, call a specialist to come out and perform a thorough inspection. This is because the gas can be ignited by the water heater’s pilot light, which poses a significant threat to the safety of you and your family.
2. Water Heater Starts To Leak
This is among the most aggravating issues a homeowner might encounter. If dripping roofs irritate you, a hot water heater that leaks out its contents will be even more of an annoyance. These can occur in a variety of places throughout your unit, including the discharge line, boiling water outlet, cold water estuary, internal tank, and expansion tank, to name a few. Moreover, it may happen from the top or the bottom, with gas leaks from the latter being more extreme.
3. Consistent Popping Noise
Sediment can build up at the bottom of the tank if it is used undisturbed for an extended period of time. Ideally, water heater drainage should be carried out at least twice a year. This is most common in places where the water is hard, meaning there are a lot of deposits. It is recommended that a water softener be used in such situations. Please don’t be misled – water heaters do make some noise.
Nonetheless, if your hot water tank makes a sound like that of a popcorn machine, it means your system is about to malfunction, and it’s time to get it tested. Sediment buildup tends to occur at the bottom of the tank where the burner is located. This means that the water heater would have to work twice as hard to heat the water. The popping noises you hear are actually air bubbles escaping from under the sediment. This warning sign means that your tank cannot last long without breaking down, and an explosion might be just around the corner.
4. Issue With the Faulty Relief Valve
The pressure relief valve is among the most essential features of any hot water tank. To reduce the water pressure within the tank, this valve opens and closes as and when the need arises. It might not be a massive issue if you catch your relief valve opening once or twice. However, if you find that your unit’s valve is continuously open, it could mean that the internal pressure within the tank is incredibly high, and the tank will inevitably burst.
Prevention of Explosion
The easiest way to avoid a catastrophic explosion, be it electric water heaters or gas ones, is to keep its functioning intact and replace (or repair) it as soon as you find any leaks or other problems. There are a few safety mechanisms and routine maintenance tasks you can do to keep your water heater in a healthy condition, and none of them necessitates hiring a plumber.
Even if your water heater shows no signs of trouble, you should go about water heater maintenance at least once a year to keep it in the best possible condition. To avoid a water heater explosion, keep the following points in mind:
- On seeing any initial signs of leakage, rust, or corrosion, have your device inspected by a specialist.
- Set your water heater’s thermostat to the optimal range of 212 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 pounds per square inch of strain.
- Flushing should be done on a regular basis.
- By physically raising the T&P valve on your water heater, you can check its condition, especially its capacity to open up on its own when required. Do this once every two months, or as required. Additionally, you should get the valve replaced every three years.
- Install an expansion tank if you have a closed water heater system.
Although a water heater explosion is extremely unlikely, you can never rule out the possibility. There are a number of reasons why commercial water heaters could burst and cause damage to your home. If you find something unusual or suspicious about your water heating unit, we suggest contacting a water heating professional to inspect the entire water heater installation.
We hope the above article will help you in safeguarding yourself from an explosion. For more details on the subject, check out our articles and other water heater reviews.