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Why do Water Heaters Explode? Preventing Fire and Water Damage

Published by Allegra on September 10, 2021 in category: Uncategorized

water heaters in kitchenThough potentially safer than traditional boilers, electric and gas water heaters can also explode. A water heater explosion can lead to serious damages to your house and family members. It can cause severe injuries and sometimes even death.

Therefore, it is advisable to get your water heaters checked and regularly inspected to prevent the risk of fire and explosion. A neglected water heater is like a ticking time bomb. Upon explosion, you may need to incur a huge cost of home damage restoration.

At 911 Restoration of Durham County, we have helped numerous residential owners restore their homes after incidents of water heater explosion. Here are some of the most common reasons that we have assessed why water heaters explode. Take a look to be well-informed and know what to do to prevent fire and water damage that may otherwise cause the water heater to blow up.

Reason#1—Rising Pressure Inside the Water Heater 

Regardless of whether you have an electric or gas water heater, rising pressure is dangerous. When the water inside the tank heats up, it expands and increases the pressure. However, the high pressure inside the heater should then be released. But due to the following problems, the pressure is not released and builds up.

The temperature relief valve doesn’t open. All water heaters nowadays are equipped with a temperature relief valve. The function of the valve is to release pressure. However, if it gets blocked or fails to work, the pressure cannot release and increase the blow-up risk.

The high limit thermostat switch fails to function as needed. It fails when the thermostat doesn’t regulate the power to the heating elements properly. Hence, the temperature of the water continues to increase to an unsafe level resulting in an explosion.

The water heater is not well-maintained. It is important to understand that there are numerous monitoring sensors and alarms installed which must be checked to prevent dangers like fire, gas leak, and explosion.

Prevention

Hence, we highly recommend water heater users get their units regularly checked. Call a professional to check your heater and fix any thermostat switch or temperature relief valve issues. A professional can easily detect issues and fix them, thereby preventing you from the danger of explosion and incurring the cost associated with home restoration after fire or water damage.

Reason#2—Poor or Incorrect Installation of the Water Heater

As the DIY culture is on the rise, many residential owners try to do many things around the house in the quest of saving a few bucks. However, homeowners should never do some tasks if they don’t have any experience or expertise. This includes water heater installation.

Installation of a water heater may seem like an easy task; it comes with its own set of technicalities that only a professional and licensed plumber understands and knows how to handle. A professional understands the dangers, risks, and requirements of installing a water heater.

The risk of explosion increases when water heaters are installed incorrectly. For example:

  • It is installed incorrectly. Some homeowners often install the heater directly on the ground. This is wrong because the water heater needs a proper stand (at least 18″ high). It helps keep the ignition source off the floor. This is much needed, especially where other flammable liquids may be stored, such as paint thinner, gasoline, and kerosene.
  • It is installed in the wrong place. Installing in a garage may seem appropriate, but if you don’t install proper stop posts, your car is likely to hit the heater and result in an explosion.
  • Gas lines don’t have drip sediment traps. In such a situation, the installation of a gas water heater is not feasible. A drip leg sediment trap is required to avoid sediments clogging the gas lines and water heater inlets. Sediment buildup can settle at the heater’s bottom, forcing the heater to run longer to heat the water. It is likely to overheat the tank and deteriorate.

Prevention

The best way to avoid this problem is to get your tank installed by a professional. Also, ensure that it is installed on an 18″ high stand and away from flammable liquids. Moreover, if you identify the sound of popping and bubbling, call a professional to check your heater. The popping and knocking noise means that the water is trapped and bubbling under the sediment. This can cause an explosion if it is not addressed right away.

Reason#3— Gas Leaks Which Are Not Identified Promptly

This is one of the leading causes of water heater explosions in homes with propane-powered or gas water heaters. It is hard to identify this problem because propane and natural gas are odorless and colorless. However, to help residential owners identify gas leakage, mercaptan is added. This is a harmless chemical, but it smells really bad, just like rotten eggs. Hence a gas leak near your water leak can be identified easily if you smell rotten eggs.

Prevention

Even the smallest ignition of flame or electrical spark can lead to a massive explosion and fire. Hence, our home restoration experts recommend you turn off the gas supply right away to prevent the risk. Next, contact a licensed professional to check your water heater and resolve the problem.

Also, another way to prevent the risk is to install a gas leak detector alarm near the water heater. The alarm can notify you if there is a gas leak, and you can take adequate measures to mitigate explosions.

Sometimes, disasters are inevitable. When water heaters explode, they can wreak havoc on your home. For quick restoration services, contact 911 Restoration of Durham County. Allow our certified team to inspect your home and carry out quick restoration services, ensuring your house is back to its livable state.

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