Water heaters are a great invention of our days when you think about all the conveniences and functions they provide. Hot water needed for laundry, showers, dishwashers and washers at your home can be delivered by a single water heater! A tank-type water heater is the most popular heater in contemporary homes. It typically heats the water using a gas burner or electric coils. The tank is intended to keep the water warm until another home utility requires hot water. However, with all the advantages of the water heaters, they can be very dangerous – the tank-type heaters have been known to explode in certain cases.
So what causes these unfortunate water heater explosions and how to prevent them? Read on to gather more information on this topic.
The signs of the water heater that is doomed for disaster
- Improper Installation
Improper water heater installation is usually done either by the homeowners themselves or by them hiring unlicensed and unprofessional plumbers.
A few indications of improper installation
- Fittings on top of the water heater were soldered
- If heat is applied directly to the top of the heater, the dip tube or other plastic parts can melt, causing significant damage to the water heater
- Faulty installed controls can also cause an explosion, especially if you have incorrectly installed or corroded gas connections
- Failed Pressure Relief Valve
During the water heating process, pressure gradually builds up inside the tank. Typically your water heater would shut off or release the built-up pressure through a pressure relief valve. However, if the temperature is set too high and pressure builds up faster than the pressure relief valve can handle, your water heater might explode. The temperature and pressure relief valve is a safety valve that automatically opens if the water heats up to 210 degrees Fahrenheit or the inside tank pressure exceeds 50 lbs PSI.
In case if the pressure relief valve is leaking, something is wrong – either too much heat or too much pressure has built up inside the tank. Do not dare to plug off a pressure relief valve to stop it from leaking! This might cause an explosion. Have it checked by a professional plumber instead.
- Neglecting Routine Maintenance
Did you know that your water heater needs regular maintenance? People tend to forget about their water heaters after installing them somewhere in the basement corner. If your house is connected to the city’s municipal water source, the cold water that comes into the water heater tank has a lot of impurities that come in with it. It could be sand or sediment that accumulates at the bottom of your water heater tank and you don’t even realize that. You periodically need to flush your water heater to get rid of all the sediment that collected inside of it. If you do not know how to do it yourself, call a professional plumber.
- Gas leak
If your carbon monoxide detector keeps going off, there is a possibility of a gas line leak in the proximity of your water heater that could ignite the next time the pilot light goes on. A gas leak can turn into a fiery explosion from just a tiny ignition flame.
If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, you should get one asap. It might save your life one day.
Basic steps on how to prevent water heater explosions
There are some safety precautions you can take to prevent the water heater explosion. There is no reason to be afraid of your water heater, it is your faithful helper around the home but to avoid any potential disasters, follow these basic steps.
- It is best if your heaters and tanks are maintained and serviced by a trained and reputable professional.
- Try to lift the relief valve every two months – it should open easily.
- It is a good idea to replace the temperature and pressure relief valve every 3 years.
- Remove any paper, debris, or dust in the area close to the water heater. And clean the heater on the outside as well.
- If your tank does not have an automatic gas shut-off valve, have one installed.
- Set the temperature level not to exceed 180°F on the water heater or boiler.
- Upgrade to a tankless water heater option if possible.
If you are a homeowner who wants the security of knowing your home water heater is a working appliance and not a potential bomb, please call a local, experienced and reliable plumbing contractor such as Downey Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning to ensure you of that security.