Four Ways To Prevent Water Heater Explosions

Water heater explosions are rare, but when one makes the news homeowners understandably become nervous that they may have a ticking time bomb in their garage or basement. Although explosions are a real risk, the good news is that there is plenty that you can do to greatly reduce and nearly eliminate any chances of your heater exploding.

1. Manage the Temp

Setting your water heater to an overly high temperature can cause the water to boil. When this happens, steam pressure can build up in the tank to dangerous levels. If this pressure builds up more quickly than it can be relieved, then an explosion becomes a real possibility. Fortunately, you can avoid this issue by keeping the temp setting below 120 F. The water will be plenty hot, but not so hot that anyone gets burned from the tap or the water boils. Further, have the heater inspected annually to ensure the water heater thermostat is properly functioning, as a malfunctioning thermostat could also lead to overheating.

2. Flush the Sediment

Minerals in the water are typically dissolved, but the heat inside the tank can cause the minerals to solidify and precipitate out of the water. When this occurs, sedimentation builds up on the bottom and sides of the water heater tank. This sediment can block burners and heater anodes, which can lead to pockets of uneven heating or even overheating, thus increasing the chances of pressure buildup and explosion. Have your tank flushed every couple of years, or more often if you have hard water, to prevent this problem.

3. Inspect the Overflow Valve

Every water heater should have a pressure release or overflow valve on the top. The valve is designed to allow pressure to escape in order to avoid an impending explosion if something goes wrong with the heater. This valve should be connected to an overflow pipe that routes the water harmlessly to the floor or to a drain. The valve should be inspected annually to make sure it is working properly.

4. Listen for Warning Signs

Your ears can be your best bet for spotting pressure problem symptoms with your water heater. Constant popping and bangs can indicate overheating, sedimentation, or other pressure related issues. A few pops here and there are normal, but louder or constant popping may indicate a problem.

Contact a water heater service in your area for more assistance.