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How To Prevent A Water Heater Explosion

water heater

When was the last time you tune up your water heater? If it’s more than twelve months ago, then you’re at risk of experiencing a water heater explosion.

In the U.S alone, about 490 lives are lost annually as a result of fire from heating equipment. Protect yourself and your family from such unfortunate incidences by maintaining your water heater.

Here are some steps you can take to prevent a water heater explosion in your home.

Perform Annual Tune-Ups

An annual tune-up ensures there’s no wear or break down of your water heater. In areas with hard water, a large amount of calcium builds up inside the water heater to form large rocks that can’t come out. There’s a need for annual flushing to prevent blockage of the water heater.

The minerals also settle at the bottom and prevent the heating element from heating the water efficiently. They can also cause tank damage and failure in gas water heaters.  Sediment and mineral buildup can also cause the lower heating element to fail in the equipment.

Annual flushing also enables you to detect rust. If there’s a buildup of rust in the heater, you need to replace it to prevent the risk of fire.

There are safety devices on the water heater that requires testing at least once yearly. For example, testing the relief valve frequently will prevent people from getting scalded or burned.

Let Professionals Handle the Installations and Repairs

It’s tempting to do water heater repairs to save some money, but it’s not worth it. There’re lots of problems that may arise from wrong installation and repairs. An improperly installed water heater can cause floods, fire, or even death.

Having a heat source too close to the combustibles can cause ignition, which contributes to lots of water heater fires. Improper installation of gas lines and connections causes a gas leak which can cause fire and explosion. Old and improperly-sized venting causes spillage of CO gas, which can lead to dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, and even death.

The temperature and pressure valves open up to relieve pressure whenever something goes wrong. If it’s not connected to a correctly sized drain line, pressure can build up inside the water heater, and it’ll eventually explode.

Licensed plumbers know how to identify and rectify possible installation dangers and code violations that would jeopardize the efficiency and safety of your water heater. Check out this page to learn more on about why you should let professional plumbers handle your water heater.

Inspect the T&P Valve Regularly

If there’s no temperature and pressure relief valve in place, your water heater can explode to cause property damage, severe injury, and death. Make sure to test it regularly to confirm it’s working efficiently. Again, the overflow pipe must be rated to accommodate excessive temperature and pressure.


Here’s how to test your T&P valve:

  1. Find the T&P valve. It’s usually on the top or side of the water heater.
  2. Take out the drain pipe. Once the drain pipe is off the valve, you may put a heat-safe or a safe bucket underneath the pipe.
  3. Lift the T&P Lever. Do it gently without pushing it up, lest it locks and makes the water heater drain. You’ll hear water and air coming from the valve and a gentle stream will drain into the bucket.

If water isn’t coming out of the tank, the valve has failed, and you need to replace it. In the event of excess pressure inside the tank, the pressure will have nowhere to go hence will build up until the water heater bursts. You should also replace the valve if the water drips before the test.

Again, if the valve is older than the water heater warranty period, get a new one.

Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

You should set the heater’s temperature to between 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If it goes higher than that, scalding burns and damage to your water heater may occur.

When heating to a higher temperature, the pressure will build up such that if your valve fails, there’ll be an explosion. But even if the valve is working fine, the extra pressure can wear the tank down over the years.

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

Fault in thermostat and buildup of minerals in the water heater will prevent the thermostat from correctly sensing the water temperature. The high pressure can result in a leak from a corroded tank and possibly cause an explosion.

But before an explosion occurs, look out for the warning signs which include:

  • The water heater making banging, clanking, and rambling noises as it heats up. It’s a sign the sediment is already build up inside your water heater tank.
  • The heater is ten years or older. Replace it with new models, preferably tankless heaters as they’re more efficient and not susceptible to frequent break downs.
  • Rust is visible on the outside of the water heater, especially around the fittings or seams. The tank is probably corroded and can explode under pressure.
  • Water coming from the water heater is rusty. Rust could be building up inside.
  • The water heater is leaking. The T&P relief valves are malfunctioning, or there’s probably a crack somewhere in the tank.

Beware of Water Leaks 

It’s best to call a plumbing professional when your water heater is leaking. Meanwhile, you can do the following:

  • Turn off the cold water supply. Close the cold water valve or turn off the main water supply at home. It would prevent your home from getting flooded.
  • Turn the power off at the electric breaker box. If the hot water tank’s power isn’t turned off, the heating elements would stay hot, which might lead to a fire. Turn off the gas line leading into the tank in case you have a gas-powered water heater.
  • Determine the source of the leak. Is it the drain valve, T&P valve, or pipes and fittings feeding your tank?

Taking these measures isn’t enough. Get an expert to solve the problem. They should make repairs and replace faulty parts depending on the source of the leak.

Don’t Fall Victim to Water Heater Explosion

Watch out for water heater explosion warning signs, do regular maintenance, and let professional handle installations, repairs, and replacements.

As you maintain your water heater, be watchful of the energy bills as well. Check out our blogs to learn how to reduce energy bills and find the right professionals to service your HVAC system.

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