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Things That Go Boom! — When Water Heaters Attack

when water heaters attack
Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’m starting off today with a bold statement. I believe the last time that you gave any thought to the water heater in your home was the last time it wasn’t working and needed to be repaired or replaced.

I consider this a big mistake considering the dangers of an improperly installed water heater along with the potential water damage a ruptured tank can cause.

How can a water heater be dangerous you ask? If a heater is improperly installed and the temperature and pressure relief valve or one of the thermostats malfunctions you could end up with a major explosion that potentially could level your home. Here’s the scenario; one of the thermostats in the heater doesn’t turn off for whatever reason and it continues to heat the water without shutting off. When water is in a pressurized tank with no means of escape it will actually go past the boiling point and become super heated. In a water heater, which has been properly installed, there is a relief valve at the top or side of the heater that will open and let the water escape before the pressure gets to great.

The guys over at MythBusters decided to see how much of an explosion a water heater could cause, check it out here in this YouTube video:

exploding water heaterNext up on the hit parade is the amount of water damage a ruptured tank can cause. The typical water line coming to a heater is a ¾” line with around sixty five pounds of water pressure on it from your normal city water system. If the tank bursts again for whatever reason; age, lack of maintenance, etc., you are going to get the initial forty to eighty gallons of water stored in the tank where it is not supposed to be. Remember that ¾” water line mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph? That water line is going to give you around fifteen gallons of water per second until it is turned off. Think about this for a minute, you leave for work at 8:00 am and the water heater goes boom at 8:01 am. You’ll be getting home at 4:00 pm and you are going to have several thousand gallons of water in your humble abode. That my friends will rack up thousands of dollars in water damage, weeks of repairs and a hefty insurance claim rather quickly.

What is this maintenance on a water heater you speak of? The best way to get the longest life out of your water heater is to have it drained and flushed on an annual basis. This will help remove the mineral deposits that build up from the calcium and magnesium in the water. As always, if you have questions or concerns about the hot water delivery system in your home we are a click or call away.

My parting thought today is from Stephen Wright in asking the question, if I melt dry ice can I swim without getting wet? Until next week…

House Whisperer out


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