How To Keep Your Water Heater From Becoming A Bomb

Did you know that a water heater in disrepair can become a bomb/water rocket that leaves a wake of damage in its path? No, we’re not joking. And Myth Busters has proven it – twice (see video below.)

This isn’t just science fiction. Water heaters have been known to explode when not maintained. We found reported incidents in Australia and Arizona as well as earlier this month in Tennessee, just to name a few.

What Causes Water Heater Explosions?

There are two common ways a water heater can create a fire/explosion and become a dangerous bomb in your Atlanta-area home.

  • Gas leak – If gas is leaking in or around your water heater, the small ignition flame can ignite the gas, causing a catastrophic explosion.
  • Water pressure – As water is heated, pressure builds inside the tank. Normally, your water heater shuts off or releases the built-up pressure through a safety valve. However, if these safety mechanisms fail, the pressure can mount until the tank eventually gives way.

How To Avoid a Water Heater Explosion

Obviously, even a small explosion in your home caused by a water heater can create thousands of dollars in damage. However, these dangerous situations can be easily prevented with just some regular maintenance.

Here are our top tips for avoiding water heater explosions in your home:

  • Get an annual water heater tune-up – A professional plumber will inspect your water heater to prevent gas leaks and make sure your water heater’s safety mechanisms are working properly.
  • Leave repairs and installations to professionals – You may be tempted to install or repair your water heater yourself to save a few bucks. However, even if your water heater doesn’t explode, improper installation can cause many other costly problems, as well. Hire a trusted professional instead.
  • Inspect your T&P valve – Traditional storage tank style water heaters have a T&P (temperature and pressure) valve that releases excess pressure and keeps your water heater from becoming a bomb. Test it regularly – it should release some water when you flip the lever and then go back into place.
  • Lower the temperature – Your water heater’s temperature should be set between 120-130° F (we usually recommend 125° F). Anything higher can cause scalding burns and damage your water heater.

As you can see, the key to preventing devastating water heater explosions in your Atlanta-area home is maintenance.

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