Can A Hot Water Heater Explode?

Can A Hot Water Heater Explode


Water heaters: One of the great comforts of the modern world. They keep your shower warm, your dishes and clothes clean with boiling-hot cycles, and make sure your homes stay cozy in those colder months.

Our lives wouldn’t be the same without this handy appliance. Which is why it is important to keep them in tip-top shape.

Because of how many tasks use them, water heaters are probably one of the most stressed machines in your homes right now. Which means that issues with them can feel like they come out of nowhere.

That’s why it is recommended to have your water heater inspected by a professional every few months, ideally every two.

If you don’t, and you allow it to go unchecked, it’s only a matter of time before those issues come back to bite you. Often with devastating results.

Readers might have heard nightmare stories of families laying in bed at night, only for their old hot water heater to explode through their house and into the sky, leaving a trail of destruction and a lot of eye-watering damage to fix.

But how likely is this?

Can A Hot Water Heater Explode?

The short answer: Yes, sometimes.

The long answer is that an exploding water heater is just one of a few signs of neglect. It’s more likely you’ll see other signs of wear and tear before that, with no dramatic explosion in sight.

Things like little-to-no hot water coming out of your tap, or small leaks that lower the heater’s pressure, or the water coming out of a faucet or showerhead is an unpleasant brown colour.

This last one is particularly nasty, as it could mean that there is rust or sediment, or even bacteria in your water supply, which can still be a danger to you and your family’s health.

Water heater’s aren’t designed to explode after all; the safety features on the one in your basement are designed to make sure that a homemade rocket-bomb is the last thing that should happen.

Still, this doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. Part of keeping a water heater working right is draining it, so sediment doesn’t build up on its inside. If too much builds up, it can create a pocket of water and air in the heater, causing pressure to build up and explode out of the bottom.

Worse still, if your pressure valve is malfunctioning, maybe it’s an old one or wasn’t fitted right, it can stop leaking correctly to release pressure like it should, causing it to build in the whole unit.

Tank-type water heaters are one of the most common kinds of heaters in the country, and are designed like it sounds: A big cylindrical tank that is filled with heating pipes and water. Their size can vary from 20 gallons, all the way up to 80.

That takes a lot of pressure to heat up, which means a lot of power that can turn your home into a pile of rubble if you’re not careful.

Think of it like an inflatable balloon: it’s good at what it does, but can’t take the pressure forever. And when it goes, it’ll be too late to stop your water heater from breaking your home and wallet.

What Are The Signs Your Hot Water Heater Might Explode

What Are The Signs Your Hot Water Heater Might Explode

One of the biggest signs that your water heater could explode is the pressure that is registered is well out of its safety range. Different sized water heaters all have different limits to how much pressure they can take, so make sure you know what type of boiler you have. 

Check what it’s recommended pressure range is, and see what the dial/indicator on your heater is telling you. If it’s too low, there’ll be no hot water coming from it. If it’s too high, there’s a serious chance your water heater is an explosion waiting to pop.

If your water heater is powered by gas rather than electricity, try to smell the air around it. That might sound weird at first, but there’s a good reason for this: there could be a gas leak.

Sulfur is one of the signs that a gas-pipe has started to leak, and water heaters will also have a pilot flame to heat that gas when it’s in the unit.

When it works, everything is fine. But if there is gas leaking near an open flame, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what happens next.

Namely, that your water heater may soon become a rocket! If you can smell something like rotten eggs, you might have a malfunctioning gas water heater (though check the back of your fridge first, just to be safe).

You should also check for popping noises coming from your water heater. Remember that buildup of sediment we talked about before? Before it blows a hole in in your heater and house, those little buildups will be creating popping noises that will sound like stones banging against the tank.

If you hear anything like that coming from your water heater, then chances are you have a sediment problem.

What Should You Do To Stop Your Water Heater From Exploding?

If you find any of the signs we’ve just talked about, the first thing you should do is call a water heating professional to take a look as soon as possible. They are trained to deal with these sorts of problems, and may even spot other signs that you may have missed.

Of course, the best way to make sure that your boiler won’t explode, is to never let it get to that stage in the first place. Remember what we’ve talked about through this article: Get your water heater inspected and drained every couple months.

That way, any problems are taken care of before they have a chance to rocket through your lounge and your roof.

Remember, a neglected water heater of any kind is a danger to you and your family. If it’s not from an explosion, it could be from a gas leak causing carbon monoxide poisoning, for scalding water leaving burns on your loved ones.

It only takes a moment for boiling water to leave third-degree burns on a person. Why let it get to that point, when a bit of maintenance can stop all this from happening?

A cared-for water heater is a safe water heater.

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