Water heaters are designed to provide a flow of continuous hot water to households and commercial buildings. Despite their durability, these tankless heaters and tank style water heaters can fail over time, leading to costly repairs or even complete water heater replacement. One of the most serious problems that can occur with a water heater is an explosion.
An exploded water heater can cause significant damage to your home and even lead to flooding. As the top Colorado Springs plumbers, we at One Source Home Service have seen this happen time and time again.
In this article, we compiled the top causes that lead to a water heater explosion in the hopes of helping you avoid this disaster. We will also provide you with our tips for how to respond to a suspected issue with your gas or electric water heater.
WHAT LEADS TO A HOT WATER HEATER EXPLOSION?
Whether you have an electric or gas water heater, the signs of a potential explosion will present themselves very similarly. The same is true of a tankless water heater or a tank style water heater. Most homeowners become concerned about their water heater when they notice that it is overheating, has quite a bit of corrosion, or sediment buildup, or they are concerned that it may be too old or installed improperly.
One of the primary causes of a water heater bursting is overheating. Water heaters are designed to heat water at a specific temperature range. When the heat rises above this range, the tank can become overpressurized, causing the tank to rupture.
This overheating problem can be caused by the following:
- A faulty thermostat
- A malfunctioning temperature
- An issue with the heating element or burner
- An issue in the pressure relief valve
- Too much buildup of sediment in the bottom of the tank
If you think your natural gas or electric water heater has been overheating recently, we recommend contacting a Colorado Springs plumber to help you troubleshoot the problem.
Tank-style water heaters are made of metal and are subjected to constant exposure to water and heat. Over time, the water heater parts can become corroded and weaken, making it more prone to bursting.
Where to Look for Electric and Gas Water Heater Corrosion
- Check the entire storage tank and its exterior surface
- Look at the water inside and interior water tank components
- Fittings and connections like inlet and outlet pipes, valves, pressure relief valves, drain valve
- Anode rod, heating mechanism, pilot light (for gas water heaters)
- Check the part of the plumbing system connected to the water heater for signs of corrosion
Sometimes parts that are experiencing this buildup of corrosion can be replaced. If the corrosion gets out of hand, the entire tank will need to be replaced. The longer the corrosion exists, the greater the chance of a burst.
Water heaters that use hard water can develop a buildup of sediment in the bottom of the tank. Over time, the sediment can harden and cause the tank to become overpressurized, leading to a burst. Regular flushing of the tank can prevent sediment buildup and minimize the risk of a bust. Because of this, we highly recommend a regular maintenance check of your water heater by a Colorado Springs plumber.
Water heaters that are installed improperly can be at an increased risk of bursting. This can include incorrect placement, poor ventilation, or insufficient water pressure. In addition, water heaters that are installed in areas that are prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters can be at an increased risk of bursting.
We have met many homeowners throughout our service in the area who enjoy all sorts of DIY projects. However, DIY projects that involve the installation of a water tank frequently end with these types of bursts. These installations require a higher level of expertise to ensure that they are performed in a safe and quality manner. Having your water heater installed by a Colorado Springs plumber will help you avoid these problems.
Water heaters have a limited lifespan; as they age, they can become more prone to bursting. The average lifespan of a water heater is between eight and 12 years, after which it is recommended to replace the unit. If your water heater is coming to the end of its lifespan, reach out to a local plumber in your area to learn about the available replacement options for you.
In areas where temperatures can drop below freezing, water heaters can be at risk of freeze damage. If the water in the tank freezes, it can cause it to expand and rupture. To minimize the risk of freeze damage, it is recommended to insulate the water heater or to turn off the water supply to the unit and drain the tank during cold weather.
HOW TO RESPOND TO ISSUES IN ELECTRIC OR GAS WATER HEATERS
So you’ve spotted an issue that makes you concerned about a potential explosion or other problem; what should you do? As water heater repair experts, we first want to ensure that you are safe as this is our top priority. Follow these steps when you notice any of the above issues in tankless water heaters or tank style water heaters.
TURN OFF THE POWER TO THE HEATER
If the heat rises above the indicated limit on a thermostat or you hear concerning sounds, turn off the entire unit before calling a water heater repair technician. Turning off the unit will cool it off and hopefully prevent the explosion as you wait for a professional to arrive.
The next course of action is to call an expert in plumbing system matters such as gas and electric water heaters. Do not attempt to fix the water heater on your own as this may make the problem worse or put you in harm’s way.
EVACUATE THE AREA AND ENSURE SAFETY
Whether your heater tank is in the laundry room, basement, or garage, make sure that you and your pets are away from its premises until the water heater repair service arrives to help.
PLUMBING AND WATER HEATER TANK SERVICES IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Are you having issues with your water heater tank? Whether it is the risk of explosion or are simply in need of a new water heater, contact the technicians at One Source Home Service or just a phone call away. We are available to help you by providing top water heater repair or installation services you need.