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Can a Water Heater Explode: What You Should Know

The water heater is one of the most essential appliances in the modern home. It allows occupants to bathe, clean their clothes, and wash dishes comfortably and safely. While most homes in America have traditional water heaters, they still make people nervous from time to time.

Throughout the years, there have been a lot of rumors and legends about exploding water heaters. With all the misinformation on the internet and social media platforms, many wonder, “Can a water heater explode?” While it is true that a traditional water heater can explode, there are plenty of warning signs that you can look out for to prevent it from happening in your home.

In this article, we’ll go over the causes and warning signs of water heater explosions and give you some tips on how to keep it from happening to you. If your water heater exhibits any signs that it could explode, call a plumbing professional immediately. For the most reliable and diligent Plumbers in Noble, OK, call Champion Plumbing today.

Why Do Water Heaters Explode?

The main reason for a water heater explosion is the buildup of gas in the tank due to excessively high water temperature. When the hot water in the tank begins to boil, it expands and becomes vapor. All water heaters have a temperature and pressure relief valve to prevent gas buildup, but if the valve malfunctions or becomes clogged, the pressure will continue to build up in the tank until it explodes.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can a water heater explode?” it’s crucial that you understand how serious the situation can be. Water heater explosions are dangerous, and those within the vicinity of a tank when it bursts usually suffer fatal injuries from metal shards and extremely hot water. 

A gas leak from a water heater can also create a massive explosion if the room fills with gas and a spark occurs or an ignition switch triggers. These types of explosions can cause severe injuries and significant property damage.

Signs That a Water Heater Explosion May Occur

When the pressure and temperature in your water heater get too high, there will be some warning signs to let you know something is wrong. If you notice any of the following symptoms with your water heater, call a plumber that offers emergency services like Champion Plumbing right away.

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve Is Leaking

The temperature and pressure relief valve (known as the T&P valve in the plumbing industry) controls the temperature and pressure within the water tank. If the valve is leaking, it is not working correctly, and the pressure in the tank can get dangerously high. Defective T&P valves are the most common cause for water heaters to explode.

The T&P Valve Stays Open

When the system works correctly, the T&P valve will only open when the temperature or pressure in the tank is too high. If there is too much gas pressure, the valve opens to release enough water vapor to stabilize the tank. If the tank’s temperature is too high, the valve opens to make room to mix cool water with the heated water and reduce its temperature.

The valve usually closes once the pressure and temperature in the tank return to normal. If the T&P valve seems to be open all the time, it indicates a pressure issue in the tank, and if the valve malfunctions, the tank will explode.

Your Water Heater Makes Popping Sounds

Over time, sediment builds up at the bottom of the water tank. If you don’t have a plumbing technician flush the tank once a year, the sediment will create an insulating barrier between the heating element and the water in the tank. The popping sound is the water under the sediment boiling as it comes in contact with the heating element as it overheats. 

The boiling water creates excess gas in the tank, and the sediment sometimes gets into the T&P valve and clogs it. If this happens, the water tank will eventually explode.

Sulfur or Rotten Egg Smell

If you detect an odor similar to that of rotten eggs near your water heater, it’s a clear indicator of a gas leak. Poor installation or damage to the gas line are the most common causes of gas leaks in water heaters.

Brown Water

If you have brown water coming from your faucets, it could indicate there’s too much sediment in your water tank or that something in the tank is starting to rust. If your tank is corroding from within, the chances of it exploding will be significantly higher.

How to Keep Your Water Heater from Exploding

The best way to prevent your water heater from exploding is to make smart choices concerning the installation and maintenance of the heater. The following are some precautions you can take to prevent a water heater explosion in your home:

  • Have a professional plumber inspect your water heater at least once a year. Regular checkups allow your plumbing technician to help you stay ahead of problems that could lead to an explosion.
  • Disconnect the water heater from its gas or electricity source if you notice any of the warning signs of explosion listed above.
  • Never attempt to repair your water heater by yourself. Because of the gas, electricity, hot water, and risk of explosion involved, water heaters are not ideal for DIY projects. Let a professional with experience and training handle it for you.
  • Switch to a tankless water heater to eliminate any chances of explosion.
  • Keep your water heater temperature setting between 120 and 125 degrees to reduce the chance of pressure issues in the water tank.

Call Champion Plumbing Today

Can a water heater explode? Absolutely. However, with routine maintenance and repairs, your heater will operate safely and reliably for years.

For dependable water heater maintenance in Oklahoma, contact Champion Plumbing. Click the link to learn how to extend the life of your water heater, and call our Edmond, OK, office at 405-591-3022 to schedule an appointment today.

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The next time you need a plumbing contractor, call Champion Plumbing if you’re in the Edmond, OK area at 405-342-3571 and give us the chance to earn your business.