Water heaters are safe if they are properly installed and maintained, yet they can explode.
They can also explode when there is an excess of gas buildup from a bad pilot light or an incorrect ventilation system.
It is important for home owners to have their heating systems annually checked by a professional to avoid any dangerous incidents.
Water heaters have a safety device built into them that shuts the unit off in the event pressure inside starts to exceed a certain PSI (pounds per square inch).
Signs That A Water Heater Could Explode
There are a number of signs that indicate the water heater is in danger of exploding. These include:
The pilot light is not lit.
This can be caused by insufficient air intake, which could mean gas has escaped from the burner chamber, there is no gas supply to the furnace, or that the pilot light control needs to be adjusted.
The increase of the outside temperature
The temperature outside increases because there is no cooling effect produced by normal water heating cycles.
This can be caused by a malfunction in the temperature sensor that reads the water temperature within the tank or a faulty thermostat inside.
The unit does not turn on at all
This can be caused by a mechanical failure or by insufficient gas flow. The unit may need to be repositioned or have its gas supply and venting checked.
The pilot light goes out
The pilot light goes out repeatedly, but quickly lights back up with a few quick ignitions. This could be caused by a malfunction in the pilot light sensor or from excess gas buildup in the burner chamber.
Hissing and gurgling sound
One can hear a hissing or gurgling sound coming from inside the unit, which indicates excess pressure. This could be caused by an air leak (which should be repaired) or a leaking burner tube.
There is a smell of gas in the house. If the smell is strong, it probably means there is a buildup of gas inside. This could mean that the unit has been turned off too soon or there is a leak in the venting system.
Rotting egg smell
This is a more unique and dangerous problem, as it indicates that the water temperature is at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This means there could be a leak in the heating element.
These sounds can be caused by the pressure of gas building up, which could mean there is a leak in the venting system or a gas leak on the burner side of the heater.
It can also be a sign of an imminent explosion of your water heater, but it could also signal that your water supply is tainted with iron or other chemicals past the point of making it drinkable, which could cause harm to you and your family.
Read more: Benefits of replacing your old water heater.
Measures To Prevent An Explosion
- Make sure to have a professional inspect your unit every year. They will make sure that everything is working right and will be able to deal with any problems long before they get out of hand.
- If you smell gas inside your house, immediately leave the building and then call the gas company.
- Never open a hot water tank that has leaked gas. It may contain combustible gas and vapors that could be ignited by lighted matches or a spark.
- If you think there is a gas leak, turn off the furnace, stove, and any other possible sources of ignition. Then call the gas company to check for leaks.
- Never try to repair or fix your water heater yourself. If you are not sure how to operate it, let a professional help you.
Read more: Tankless water heater code requirements.
Other Dangers Of Water Heaters
There are other dangers associated with water heaters, including:
An exploding water heater can cause damage to your home.
This is especially dangerous if it is close to a gas source where there are several appliances that can explode at the same time.
For example, a gas oven and range could explode while the pilot light is not lit on the water heater or in the basement.
If you have any suspicions about a water heater that may be an issue, you should not hesitate to contact a professional as soon as possible.
The safety of children and pets can also be at risk
Children may not properly supervise an injured or spry adult. This could result in the injury of infants or young children and the death of pets that are not normally supervised as closely by a parent.
In either case, there could be an explosion that causes serious consequences.
Older home appliances
- It can pose a serious danger to people of all ages who mistakenly believe that they can operate a malfunctioning unit.
- Many older units do not have safety valves or pressure regulators built into them, which means that any excess pressure could cause serious injuries or death.
If you are in doubt about how to safely shut off your home’s heater, leave the property and contact a technician to help you out.
- It do not use modern safety mechanisms. This means that if there is a gas leak or if there are excess pressure levels inside the unit, there may be no warning before an explosion.
If you are in doubt about how to shut off your heater, you should contact a professional or leave the home immediately and call the gas company.
- It may also use plastic parts, which can deteriorate over time and become brittle. These parts can break during routine use due to age and weaken the overall safety of the unit.
If you are not sure about the safety of your unit, contact a computer immediately.
When you have to have a new water heater installed in your home, contact an area company with certified technicians and ask them about their return policy and purchase protection.
Many companies offer protection for your investment, and offer servicing if there are any concerns about your unit. Make sure that you know what your contract covers before you commit to any purchases or services.