Can Water Heater Explode? (Causes, Warning Signs, and Prevention)

In the further article, we’ll answer the burning question: “Can Water Heater Explode?” We’ll also mention the warning signs of this catastrophe and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Everyone needs a water heater in their home. No matter if you have a hybrid, solar power, or a gas unit, you probably wonder can water heater explode. If such a disaster were to happen, the consequences would be enormous. Well, we have some bad news for you.

Can Water Heater Explode?

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Water heaters do precisely what their name suggests: They heat water in your property. This isn’t a product that you’ll buy every day.

In fact, most homeowners living in the same house will likely only change one or to heaters in their lifetime. There are five common types of water heaters:

  • Conventional storage water heater
  • Tankless water heater
  • Hybrid water heater
  • Solar-powered water heater
  • Gas water heater

As some types are deemed really safe, you probably wonder can water heater explode, even if it doesn’t use electricity. The answer might be surprising and overwhelming.

Every water heater, no matter its type, can explode. While some heaters might be more dangerous than the others, every unit can cause a lethal explosion.

In fact, even the well-known MythBusters have proven this. If you don’t take care of your heater the right way, it can become a real hazard.

This can even be life-threatening.

While water heaters are essential, they have a dark side. Many people don’t even know can water heater explode, but they definitely can.

While we don’t want to raise panic, you should understand all the dangers of water heaters.

Still, most water heaters are very much safe, as long as you maintain them regularly. Also, you can notice and predict most water heater problems if you know what to look for.

This can keep you safe, and you will be able to use your water heater for years, maybe decades, safely. However, you shouldn’t pretend like accidents can’t happen.

Water Heater Explosion Warning Signs

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Luckily for every homeowner who wonder can water heater explode soon, there are a few warning signs to look for. If you know how water heaters work, you can easily prevent a disaster.

Below are some common signs of a water heater that is about to explode.

Improper installation

If you don’t hire a reliable licensed professional or try to install a water heater by yourself, an explosion might occur. Of course, this won’t happen the same day, maybe even the same year.

However, improper installation is the most common cause of water heater malfunctioning and even exploding.

Some specific indications that your water heater isn’t correctly installed are:

  • Soldered fittings on the water heater’s top
  • The heat source is right on top of the heater or some plastic parts that can melt
  • Controls that aren’t properly installed

Any of these three issues can escalate, causing explosions. To ensure you don’t have to worry about issues such as “Can water heater explode” work with a professional!

Pressure relief valve failure

The pressure relief valve is a part of the water heater that releases the built-up pressure. This pressure builds up during the heating process, no matter the type of the unit.

On rare occasions, though, the pressure builds up too fast, and the relief valve can’t handle it. This typically happens when the temperature is too high.

Usually, the pressure relief valve opens either when the pressure exceeds 50lbs PSI or the temperature goes over 210 degrees Fahrenheit.

The most significant sign that something’s wrong is the leaking pressure relief valve. This means that there’s either too much pressure or too high a temperature.

Don’t ever plug off a relief valve to stop the leaking! If you do, the entire unit might explode, causing severe harm or even death. Call a professional plumber to check everything out instead.

 Irregular maintenance

Believe it or not, even water heaters need regular maintenance. Many people aren’t aware of that, and they think of water heaters as units that can’t break.

You install them, and that’s it. However, the water running through it isn’t as pure as you might think. This is especially the case if you’re connected to the local municipal water source.

Most of us aren’t paying attention, but you could see the accumulation if you were to open your heater tank. Whether it’s sand or mineral sediment, you will notice a layer of impurities on the bottom of the tank.

To ensure your tank is working properly, flush the tank to get rid of all that mineral deposit. If you aren’t sure you know how to do it or fear making a mistake, ask a professional for help.

The water heater maintenance typically isn’t an expensive process, but it can make a difference in the unit’s life span.

If you wonder how often should water heater be replaced, you should check the instruction manuals. This entirely depends on your water heater’s type and model.

Typically, water heaters with tanks last around six to 12 years if you maintain them regularly. Tankless water heaters can usually last twice as much.

Gas leak

If you have a gas water heater, you are probably aware that the gas can leak. A telling sign of this is if your carbon monoxide detector activates.

A gas leak can quickly turn into a deadly explosion if there is even the tiniest spark.

Because of this, you should consider having a carbon monoxide detector near your gas water heater if you don’t already. Quite literally, this might change your life.

How Often Do Water Heaters Explode?

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By now, you already know the answer to “Can water heater explode?” But, do you know how common this hazard is, or how many water heaters explode a year?

National Fire Protection Association conducted research on this topic.

Water heater explosion statistics showed that, in 2010, water heaters caused around 5,800 fires that damaged the property’s structure.

These fires resulted in 210 injuries and 80 deaths! Also, the combined cost of these fires was approximately $104 million of property damage.

And all of these statistics are for the US only! While there isn’t an exact statistic on how many water heaters explode a year, these numbers alone are concerning.

This is a clear indication that not many people know how to take care of their water heaters.

Is There Some Water Heater Exploding Noise That Can Be a Warning?

Water heaters generally have a quiet operation. This makes it easy to notice if there is any unusual sound coming from the unit. Don’t worry – if you hear a noise, it isn’t likely a water heater explosion sound.

However, you should pay attention, as any cracking or humming can tell you the issue.

  1. Crackling or popping sounds coming from your water heater are an indication of a sediment buildup on the heating element.
  2. Knocking sounds are typically heard on the walls, near the place where your water heater pipes are. This isn’t a dangerous sound, and what causes them is when the water supply is suddenly cut off.
  3. A usual instance when this occurs is if you’ve simultaneously used the toilet pump or the dishwasher.
  4. Rumbling sounds mean you have sediments moving inside the tank with the water.
  5. Humming sounds means your heating element is placed vertically.
  6. Screeching sounds happen when valves aren’t entirely opened up, so there’s only one tiny opening for the water to come through.
  7. Tapping or ticking noises are caused by heat traps that prevent water from going in the reverse direction.
  8. Clicking noises are a common occurrence on tankless water heaters. They usually mean that there calcium buildup, or that the flow switch is rapidly moving from on to off settings.

Luckily enough, you can prevent most of these noises without too many issues. While these noises alone don’t mean that your water heater will explode, you should take them seriously.

All of them indicate that something might be wrong with your heater. If you neglect the cause for too long, you might have a big problem ahead. This is especially true with sediment buildups.

How to Prevent Water Heater from Exploding?

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You know how they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The same goes for your water heater. You need to understand how to avoid the most common issues you might have with it. If you don’t want to make your heater a time bomb, you should take some precautionary measures.

First of all, you now probably wonder can water heater be repaired. That entirely depends on the type of damage that happened. However, your plumber can fix most issues that you’ve noticed on time. This is why it’s crucial to understand how water heaters work and what you can do to prolong its life-span. Here are some steps you should take.

  • Make sure you hire a professional to check your water heater once a year. This way, you’ll notice any signs of corrosion or buildup on time.
  • Get a good thermostat so you can monitor the water pressure and the temperature inside the tank. If you wonder are water heater thermostats universal, you should know that they aren’t. Not all thermostats will work for all water heaters. Ensure you’ve checked the specifications before paying for a product that might not work.
  • Call a professional to flush and maintain your water heater from time to time. You don’t have to do this annually but do it at least every few years.
  • Ensure your water heater’s pressure relief valve is working properly. You should manually lift it and inspect it every two or three months. The most important thing to look at is whether it can open by itself. It would be best if you changed the valve every three years.
  • If you notice any damages to the pressure relief valve, change it immediately. The same goes for the heater and other removable parts.
  • If you have a closed water heater system, install an expansion tank.

Everything from this list goes down to one thing, and that is regular maintenance. If you leave an existing problem to last, only then the water heater can explode. Minimize the risks by taking care of every little issue that arises. This will also ensure your heating system lasts for a long time.

Bottom Line

Water heaters are an essential item for all of our homes, but you need to take good care of them. If a water heater breaks, damages could be even fatal. Even if no one is injured, this explosion can cause a fire that will cost you significantly.

Now that you know can water heater break, you hopefully understand the importance of regular maintenance. Even though these kinds of hazards are rare, they can happen. However, if you ensure you have everything working correctly, you can sleep soundly, knowing an explosion isn’t a likely scenario.