Your neighbor tells you that their neighbor’s water heater has exploded. Would you believe this story? Is it fact or fiction?
While it may sound outlandish, the truth is that yes, a water heater can explode. And if you’ve never seen this happen, you should know that the damage can be catastrophic.
Water heater explosions cause property damage that can be devastating. People can be hospitalized from their injuries, and water heater explosions can even cause death.
It isn’t just a myth. Water heater explosions can happen in your home or at your business. But can they be prevented? Let’s take a look into how a water heater can explode.
How Common Is It For a Water Heater to Explode?
Water heater explosions are not a common event. It takes several things to go wrong inside your water heater to cause your water heater to explode.
Still, it’s worth knowing what the warning signs are that it’s time to replace your water heater.
Whether your water heater is a gas or electric water heater, it does have the potential to explode if it malfunctions.
What You Should Know About Your Water Heater
It’s important to have a basic understanding of how your water heater works. Familiarize yourself with some of the parts that make your water heater work.
- Your water heater has a Pressure Release Valve. This may also be called a Temperature and Pressure Release Valve, or T&P Valve for short. This valve keeps your water heater from turning into a bomb. When the pressure in your water heater gets to a certain level, the T&P valve releases the pressure. It lets the pressure flow out into the drip tube into the drip pan.
- There’s a pipe or a tube – called a drip tube – that releases water out into the bottom of the water heater, out of the heater.
- At the bottom of the water heater, near your feet, you may see the drip pan. This is where excess water may be released and held.
Water Heater Explosion Warning Signs
As mentioned above, it’s important to have a very basic understanding of how your water heater works. Periodically, you should check your water heater for signs that it might not be working properly.
Here are some basic steps to take to make sure your water heater isn’t building up the potential to explode:
- Periodically test the relief valve to see if it’s working properly. Slowly, gently, pull it upward. You’ll want to keep the valve up for about five seconds. Be careful, and stand back, because the water released will be very hot. After about five seconds, you can secure the valve back into its secure position. If the valve is working properly, water should pour out into the bottom, the area called the drip pan. If no water comes out, this is a warning sign that something is wrong.
- If water is leaking from your water heater, and you haven’t tested the valve, that’s also a sign something is wrong
How Old Is Too Old For a Water Heater?
The age of your water heater can also be a sign that it may be time to replace it.
Look on your water heater for what’s called a rating plate. The rating place shows the serial number, model number, and manufacturer date.
While performance of a water heater can vary, water heater malfunctions can happen when a water heater is only seven years old. However, a water heater could last longer than that.
When in doubt, it’s best to consult with a professional to evaluate the safety of your water heater.
How Often Should a Water Heater Be Replaced?
In addition to knowing how old your water heater is, it’s important to consider other signs that could signal that your water heater has the potential for an explosion.
While explosions are rare, water heaters do need to be maintained properly.
When you notice these small warning signs, that are telling you something could be wrong. If not handled properly, these small problems could turn into a larger problem.
Some of these warning signs include:
- Water that gets too hot
- Water that doesn’t get hot enough
- Running out of hot water too quickly
- Water that is a strange color
- Water pressure that seems too weak
- Temperature of the water changes often – sometimes it’s warm, sometimes it’s cold – it isn’t consistent
Any of these signs are telling you that your water heater isn’t doing its job. Whether your water heater is gas, electric, or solar, it should provide you with water that is an appropriate temperature. Your water heater should also be energy efficient.
Is Rust On Your Water Heater’s Tank Ok?
Rust can also be a red flag that your water heater could explode. Rust on the top means that there’s moisture in the tank.
Look at the outside of the water heater, and look for rust spots. You can also take your hands and place them on the tank. Do you feel any bulges on the water heater tank? If so, this can let you know that bulges have formed due to rust.
You can also run hot water into your bathtub to test for the color of the water. Iff the water starts to go brown, that’s a tip-off that your water heater isn’t working properly.
You Can Prevent a Water Heater Explosion
Can a water heater explode? Absolutely. It’s not extremely common, but it can happen if the right ingredients are in place.
And when it does, it can cause a ton of damage to your home and property.
When a water heater explosion occurs, it can flood your property. Water heater explosions can be catastrophic. They can destroy property and even cause death. These injuries are preventable, as water heater malfunctions are preventable.
If you’re not sure if your water heater needs to be replaced, call Fountain Plumbing today to ask about scheduling an inspection.