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Gone are the days when hot water was considered a luxury. With modern time inventions, such as water heaters, hot water has become a basic necessity. From relaxing showers to washing dishes and laundry, hot water is pretty much integrated into our daily lives. Regardless of the weather, you can continue to enjoy the warm water in every faucet of your home thanks to water heaters.

And while water heaters are a necessity for most homeowners, they seldom think it can explode once it’s installed. Yes, water heaters have a dark side. They can explode and cause massive damage. Fortunately, it is rare and preventable damage. In this post, you will learn about five essential things related to water heater explosions.

#1.  Water Heaters Can Explode

Water heaters are generally very safe. With proper installation and regular maintenance, water heaters can serve you for years. But if not maintained properly, water heaters can explode. While it was previously considered a myth, the myth was busted by a reality television series Mythbusters. The show demonstrated how improper maintenance could literally cause your water heater to explode.

All water heaters have a temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P) that allows pressure release as the temperature increases. Moreover, your T&P value manages rising temperatures. However, when your T&P valve is not working correctly, it can lead to an explosion. The blockage of your T&P valve or damage to the valve can cause pressure build-up due to an unregulated temperature increase, and your water heater may explode.

Apart from the damaged T&P valve, several other problems can increase the risk of water heater explosions, which are highlighted in the next section.

#2. It Can Cause Life-Threatening Injuries

Water heater explosions may be rare, but they are an undeniable reality, and when it happens, it can lead to severe injuries. Fire may also accompany a water heater explosion, which can multiply the risk of damage and injuries.


According to the Burn Foundation, it can take as little as 1 second for water at 155 ˚F to cause a third-degree burn. Most water heaters explode at temperatures more than 130˚F, so it is highly likely that the explosion results in severe burns. Moreover, it can lead to scalding and facial scarring, and often the damage may be irreversible.

According to the data, children and the elderly are most likely to suffer from water heater injuries.

Head Injuries

When a water heater explodes, the water heater’s body is completely shattered and disperses in all directions. When this happens, there is a high risk of head injuries. In some cases, water heater explosions can also cause permanent nerve damage.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When water heaters are improperly installed, there is a high risk of gas leakage. Untreated gas leakage can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

#3. Several Problems Can Increase the Risk of Water Heater Explosion

As mentioned earlier, water heaters are relatively safe, and explosions are rare. But what are some of the problems that can increase the risk of a water heater explosion? Let's look at several problems that can cause an explosion.

Sediment Build-up

Over time, minerals from your water supply settle at the bottom of your water heater's tank. If your water heater is not regularly maintained, the sediment will continue to build-up and insulate the water. As a result, your water heater needs to overwork, which increases the risk of a water heater explosion.

Rust Corroding the Tank

Rust can corrode your water tank and is considered a potential cause of water heater explosions. Fortunately, rust is an easily preventable condition. A professional plumber can guide you about how to prevent the rusting of your water heater tank.

Too Much Internal Pressure

Too much internal pressure is perhaps the most common cause of water heater explosions. When the temperature and pressure relief valve is not functioning correctly, it can lead to pressure build-up in the water heater and cause an explosion. Therefore, every homeowner must ensure that the T&P valve of your water heater is appropriatelyfunctioning.

#4. It Does Not Happen Over Night

While it is true that water heaters can explode due to several reasons, the catastrophe doesn't occur all of a sudden. Your water heater will show a few signs before the D-day, so it is essential to keep a check. Some of the signs that your water heater may show include.

Malfunctioning Pressure Relief Valve

The temperature and pressure relief valve play an important role in maintaining the water heater's temperature and pressure. If you have a malfunctioning or leaking pressure relief valve, there may be too much pressure inside the water heater that could lead to an explosion.

The valve is typically located on the top of the heater. If you want to ensure that your R&P relief valve is working efficiently, it is best to call a professional plumber. This proactive approach can save you from a lot of inconvenience and hazards.

Gas Leak Near the Water Heater (Rotten Egg Smell)

Gas leaks around the water heater can be dangerous. They can fuel the explosion and intensify the damage. If you notice a rotten-egg-type smell near the water heater, it is best to call a professional plumber for possible leak detection.

Unusual Noise from Your Water Heater

Overtime, when sediment builds up in the water heater, it causes some unusual popping and knocking noise. If you notice some unusual sounds from your water heater, call a professional plumber as soon as possible.

#5.Water Heater Explosions are Avoidable

Fortunately, water heater explosions are avoidable. Here are some of the tips that can help you avoid explosions.

  • Ensure your heater’s pressure relief valve is functioning correctly
  • Make sure your water heater’s temperature does not exceed 120-125 degrees
  • Schedule water heater service and maintenance at least once every year
  • Always trust a reliable, professional plumber for your water heater's repair and maintenance

Professional Plumber at Your Service

Entrust your water heater repair and maintenance to Mesa Plumbing and avoid any inconvenience caused by a malfunctioning water heater. To find out more about what we do, contact us now.

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