Can A Faulty Water Heater Explode?
There is such a thing as a water heater explosion. It can happen and is a serious danger when it happens. What can cause a water heater to explode? There are actually quite a few potential reasons. The main cause, which can happen in different situations, boils down, pun sort of intended, is pressure. Any problem which leads to pressure becoming too high can cause an explosion. This includes sediment, a broken rod, a broken valve, or bad installation. A gas leak can also cause an explosion and be a major fire hazard capable of major destruction, injury, and fatalities. Will a failing water heater explode? What are the signs to pay attention to?
Water Heater Explosion Warnings
Here are the most common signs you have a problem with a water heater. If you’re noticing one of these, contact a professional as soon as possible. Chances are, it’s an issue that needs to be fixed, even if the chances of an explosion are pretty low. If it gets to the point of an explosion, it can be very dangerous and destructive.
- Rotten Egg Odor
The gross smell of rotten eggs is usually sulfur, which usually means there’s a gas leak. A water heater has a pilot light. If gas meets the fire, it will explode and be a huge disaster. If you smell this anywhere in or near your home, and especially near a water heater or anything hot or with fuel or flames, evacuate the house. Once everyone is safe, then call 911 and a professional.
- Bad Pressure Valve
A water heater pressure valve keeps tabs on the pressure inside the tank. It should control the pressure, especially when the system’s heating water. The valve can malfunction and fail. This will lead to high pressure and the pressure has to go somewhere. A leaking valve is a sign of a worse, major problem possibly building.
- Strange Sounds
Sediment can accumulate inside a water tank. This is especially true over time with older units. You need to drain and flush a tank at least two times a year. When sediment, dirt, clay, minerals, or debris collects it can cause high pressure and loud noises. You should pay attention to these noises. Like with anything causing high pressure in the tank, it can cause an explosion.
- Failing T&P Valve
A temperature and pressure valve should open and close as needed to keep the internal pressure of the water tank ok. The valve should open and let cool water in when the temperature reaches a max point. It should be closed the rest of the time. If it’s always open, there’s a problem with the valve or the pressure. If it’s always open, but then fails or malfunctions and closes without the issue being fixed, it can cause a major problem or explosion.
- Installation Problems
This reason is tough to catch as you’re likely not an expert or pro on plumbing or water heaters. You called someone else to presumably take care of it. Yet, it can happen. A bad install can cause a severe problem. Errors by a pro may cause gas leaks, a component malfunction, or high pressure. If you’re thinking your water heater was installed wrong or received poor service, contact a different company or technician.
- Filthy Water
If you’re getting brown, dirty, chunky or smelly water, contact a professional technician right away. This is very dangerous to the health and safety of your family, even before an explosion could happen or if the issue’s not a threat of an explosion. It could be a sign of a major tank issue and lead to an explosion. A home’s water should always be clean and clear. Dirty or brown water could mean there’s sediment or rust in the heater or somewhere in the home’s plumbing.
Typical Water Heater Injuries
Seniors and kids are more susceptible to injuries from hot water or water heater-related problems. A surprisingly high number of children, in the thousands per year, are injured from hot water from heaters with the water temperature set too high. Explosions, carbon monoxide leaks, and fires also cause injuries and deaths.
Third-degree burns can happen, in children and adults, from only one second of exposure to hot water at 156 degrees. Third-degree burns are possible with 149-degree water for two seconds, 140 degrees for five seconds, or 133 degrees for 15 seconds.
Your water heater temperature should be set at 120-125 degrees.
Tips for Stopping Water Heater Explosions
- Keep the water heater temperature at 120-125 degrees. Any higher risk of burns from hot water and increased pressure in the water tank.
- Regularly check, or get a pro to check, all of the system’s valves.
- Have a water heater inspected and cleaned by an expert once a year.
- Make sure your regular plumber is licensed.
Carbon Monoxide Danger
Along with explosions and other failures or malfunctions, carbon monoxide from a water heater is a definite threat. A carbon monoxide leak can be poisonous and it can take affect people in a house in a very short period of time, in seconds or minutes.
If a water heater is improperly installed, maintained, or ventilated, it can leak carbon monoxide. CO is tasteless, odorless, and can’t be seen. You need a working carbon monoxide detector, installed and installed in the proper places of a house, in order to know if carbon monoxide is present. Symptoms of CO poisoning include confusion, light-headedness, nausea, headaches, weakness, aches and even collapse and death if a person is caught in an enclosed area or if the CO becomes too heavy.
South End Plumbing specializes in leak repairs and water heater installation, so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in tankless water heaters – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.