Every water heater is a tank that is ignited by fuel whether it’s electric or gas. In this article, we will share with you several hot water heater explosion warning signs that you should be made aware of to help keep your family safe.
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Parts of a Hot Water Heater
Water heaters that have seen their best days always show warning signs before they completely stop working or explode.
Water Heater Failure Signs
Improper Installation. Improper water heater installation is often due to homeowners hiring unlicensed plumbers.
Allowing inexperienced plumbers to install a water heater could not only cause an explosion but also you could be held 100% responsible for all of the damages should an explosion occur.
Looking for the cheapest price or simply not caring that the plumber you hire to install your water heater is unlicensed is a recipe for disaster.
A few signs of improper installation:
Fittings on top of the water heater were soldered. This is a common installation mistake made by do-it-yourselfers and unlicensed plumbers.
If heat is applied directly to the top of the appliance you could melt the dip tube or other plastic parts and cause serious damage to the water heater.
Also, badly installed controls can cause an explosion. This is especially true if you have improperly installed or corroded gas connections.
Any electrical spark near the gas line could also cause an explosion, especially if the hot water heater or gas line is corroding.
Water corrosion can get through the water heater and cause an electrical short. The gas leak from the same corrosion can easily lead to a fire or an explosion.
Failed Pressure Relief Valve. If the temperature is set too high and pressure builds up faster than the pressure release valve can handle it can cause your water heater to explode.
Make sure your heater is set in the safe temperature range.
The temperature and pressure relief valve is a safety valve that kicks open if the water reaches 210 degrees Fahrenheit or the pressure inside the tank exceeds 50 lbs PSI.
If the pressure relief valve is leaking, it’s a warning sign that something is wrong.
You either have too much pressure or too much heat inside the tank.
Either one of these situations, if left unattended, could be deadly. Never plug off a pressure relief valve to stop it from leaking.
If your relief valve is wearing out or constantly being used it means that it is constantly having to let off steam and soon may lose its ability to do so.
Non-Existent Routine Maintenance. How many times have you went down to the basement, into the garage or furnace room and maintained your hot water tank?
Yes, your water heater does its job by heating your water when you need it but it also needs routine maintenance.
Your hot water heater also does a lot more than you may realize. The cold water that comes into the tank from your city’s municipal water source has a lot of residuals that come it with it.
It could be sand or silt and all of that ends up in the bottom of your water tank. Because this debris is heavier it just sits on the bottom of your tank.
Your water tank requires maintenance on both the inside and outside.
If you can’t read the labels for the cold or hot settings on the top of your tank then you should dust it off.
Never store anything in close proximity to your tank in the event it does spring a leak.
Also, you periodically need to do a water heater sediment flush to get rid of the rust and the residual sediment that accumulates on the bottom.
If you don’t it impedes the gas burner’s ability to keep your water warm.
Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off. If your carbon monoxide detector keeps going off, there may be a gas line from the hot water heater that could ignite the next time the pilot light turns on.
If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector you should get one right away. They’re not very expensive and they could end up saving your life.
If you smell gas near the hot water heater turn off the gas and the heater to keep it from exploding.
And if there’s no smell of gas but the tank is expanding unusually at the joints you know it’s probably going to explode.
If you’re looking for a few resources to make sure your house doesn’t become the next hot water heater explosion statistic check out this report released by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and this article with some tips on how to keep your hot water heater from exploding.