Can a Water Heater Explode? Prevention Guide

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Water heaters are invaluable systems that ensure you have access to hot water in your home, allowing for the comfort of hot showers, warm running water for washing dishes, and ensuring you can run your washing machine and dishwasher on sanitization cycles. With consistent maintenance and care, you can help prolong the life of your water heater while ensuring it is always in working order.

Can a water heater explode? The answer is yes, but explosions typically occur with unmaintained water heaters.

Understanding the warning signs is essential in preventing a water heater explosion, and by knowing what to look for, you can take action and call a trusted plumber immediately to resolve the issue. For all of your plumbing, HVAC, and home and water heating needs, including water heater repair in Massapequa, NY, Chivalry Plumbing and Heating is here to help.

6 Signs Your Water Heater Might Explode

Though uncommon, gas and electric tank water heaters can explode, causing deadly consequences and destruction. Keep an eye out for these signs that your water heater is malfunctioning. If you notice any of these signs, call a plumbing and heating company right away for water heater maintenance to prevent a dangerous explosion.

1. Leaking Pressure Relief Valve

One of the most common causes of water heater explosions is defective pressure relief valves. The water heater’s pressure relief valve, or T&P valve, regulates pressure and temperature inside the water heater tank. T&P valve leaks occur from excess pressure in the system, which it cannot support.

The pressure valve is a safety feature that keeps the pressure inside the heater at a safe level. If this mechanism malfunctions and too much pressure accumulates, leaking indicates a potentially dangerous situation. Have a technician assess the leak immediately.

2. Brown Water Coming from Pipes and Faucets

Brown water or sediment coming out of your faucets is dangerous. If you notice these warning signs, you should contact a plumbing and heating company as soon as possible to have your water heater checked out. This is a very clear indication of an issue that may cause an explosion. Anytime water is not clear, there is a potential health danger you need to address.

When hot water from your taps is brown or rust-colored, or if sediment is present, your water heater is likely rusted. This means the unit has corrosion and may malfunction, which runs the possibility of an explosion if not addressed.

3. Popping Noises

Anytime you hear popping sounds coming from your water heater, it is necessary to have it assessed. Sediment clogs can also trigger pressure valve malfunctions, preventing the system from releasing pressure as needed, which can lead to an explosion due to high pressure.

Popping indicates the presence of built-up sediment, and it can result in overheating in the water heater. The popping noises occur when water becomes trapped beneath the sediment layer and boils against the heating element. The sounds you hear are the bubbles bursting against the tank’s components.

Sediment buildup is common in water heaters and regular flushing is a preventative maintenance measure that helps keep it from becoming an issue. Because sediment accumulates into thick layers, it acts as insulation within the system, interfering with the heating elements. Depending on the mineral content of your local water supply, we recommend flushing water heaters twice yearly.

4. Rotten Egg Smell

If you smell rotten eggs coming from your water heater, this is a critical sign of a potential gas leak. Gas leaks can happen due to damaged gas lines, improper installation, or system issues, and they are very dangerous, both for your health and for the risk of water heater explosion.

If you are asking, “Can a water heater explode?” a rotten egg smell is especially dangerous. The smell is an indication of sulfur, which is common in gas leaks. When exposed to the pilot light flame, the gas fumes can ignite into an explosion, so have this checked out by a water heater professional immediately.

5. Poor Installation

Though not easily recognizable, various water heater issues happen from improper installation. Pressure buildup, gas leaks, and other issues can occur, creating the right situation for a water heater explosion.

If you suspect your water heater was incorrectly installed, reach out to the team at Chivalry Plumbing and Heating for assistance to examine the heater and correct any issues. 

6. Pressure Relief Valve Is Stuck Open

The pressure relief valve typically opens when the water heater’s internal temperature or pressure hits a certain level to lower both temperature and pressure automatically. It should close when the pressure returns to normal.

If the valve stays open continuously, it will interfere with internal water temperature and pressure, which can create an explosion risk if the valve fails.

When to Call for Water Heater Repair Service 

If any of the above warning signs of a water heater explosion show up in your home, call for water heater service immediately. Don’t try to fix the problem on your own. Because water heaters involve super-heated water and sometimes gas, it’s best to let a professional handle the issue.

Here at Chivalry Plumbing and Heating, our expert team provides full-service plumbing, water heating, drain cleaning, and maintenance solutions for the Massapequa, Merrick, Plainview, Bellmore, Wantagh, Levittown, and Seaford areas. We offer competitive pricing to meet your budget, plus a satisfaction guarantee.

Reach Out to Chivalry Plumbing and Heating Today

Can a water heater explode? Yes, but explosions are almost always avoidable. Proper maintenance, careful observation, and paying attention to the warning signs go a long way in helping you avoid such a disaster.

To learn more about water heater maintenance and the difference between boiler and water heater systems, contact our team today at (516) 613-2847. The technicians at Chivalry Plumbing and Heating are here to help keep your heating systems running safely, and we provide fast, reliable service for all heating and plumbing needs in Massapequa, NY, and the surrounding areas.