What You Should Know About Water Heater Explosion

Learning about water heater explosions is often overlooked. No one wants to imagine their water heater exploding since it can lead to serious levels of damage. 

However, learning about this problem can be one of the best ways to prevent it from happening.

A water heater explosion can cause injuries and severe damages that may impair your health and lead to expensive repairs. So, instead of ignoring the issue, learning what causes water heater explosions and understanding how to prevent them can help you keep you and your family safe.

How does a water heater work?

The first step to understanding hot water heater explosions is learning how water heaters work. Since there is no chance of explosion when dealing with a tankless water heater, this article will examine how the traditional tank water heater works.

A tank-type water heater comes in two types.

  •         The fuel-fired water heater
  •         Electric water heater

Tank water heaters work efficiently and provide constant hot water. It features an insulation system to keep the water warm until it is used.

How a fuel-fired water heater works

A fuel-fired water heater is equipped with burners that run on oil or gas. It also comes with vent pipes that efficiently release exhaust gasses. A fuel-fired water heater works with pipes located at the bottom and top of the tank to supply cold and hot water respectively. The cold water is supplied to the bottom while hot water is at the top.

It also features a pressure and relief valve that helps maintain optimal temperature and right pressure in the tank.

How an electric water heater works

Electric water heaters are more efficient than fuel-fired units. These units feature power cables connected to the heater and your house’s electric panel. It also comes with two heating elements located in the middle and the bottom of the tank.

Also, there is a thermostat to maintain optimal temperature in the tank. Hence, the system works by determining the water temperature and sending a signal to the heating element when there is a need to increase the temperature.

Once the water is heated back to the preset temperature, heating is halted and water temperature is maintained

What are the causes of water heater explosions?

So, can a water heater explode without any signs or warnings? A water heater explosion does not just occur because you install tank water storage in your house. Something must trigger that reaction, and that can be anything from a faulty system or part to negligent during installation.

Gas leakage

Gas leaking is the first thing to consider when discussing a water heater explosion. Naturally, gas leakage can affect your health, and it is just a matter of time before it results in an explosion. Where the water heater is leaking fuel, there is a chance that the ignition flame catches that and leads to an explosion. Hence, slight gas leakage should be promptly fixed to prevent situations like this.

Excessive pressure in the tank

Pressure in the water tank increases when water is heated. As mentioned above, the pressure and relief valve is in charge of releasing the pressure in your tank; hence, there is a need to ensure that the valve is working perfectly.

Faulty pressure and relief valve simply means that when water is heated, there is no device to release the pressure in the tank. As the pressure increases, the risk of water heater explosions also increases. 

How to prevent water heater explosions

Keep the following prevention tips in mind if you want to prevent water heater explosions in your home: 

Regular maintenance

Working with a professional plumbing company is important since that is the only way to ensure that you do not keep wasting money on ineffective maintenance.

Have a professional plumber check the system periodically. A professional plumber can help you detect gas leaks and other plumbing-related issues that are negatively affecting your unit.

Do not install or repair your unit unless you have previous experience

Saving money by installing or repairing your water heater yourself sounds tempting; however, that is not something you should try. There is a high risk of explosion where the unit is not repaired or installed properly. Because of this, following DIY steps on how to install a water heater can be quite risky. 

There are several reasons to have a professional plumber get the job done.

Check the pressure and relief valve

It is also important to learn how to check the pressure valve since this is one of the reasons a water heater may explode. Checking the pressure and relief valve and ensuring that it works perfectly is the best way to make sure that you do not live with a compromised water heater. 

Keep a low temperature

Increasing the temperature range unnecessarily can cause your water heater to explode even where all the components are working fine. So ensure that you keep the range between 120 – 130 degrees Fahrenheit and not higher.

Water heater explosion warning signs

Understanding certain water heater explosion warning signs  can helpfully prevent the terrible occurrences of an explosion. Some signs to watch out for include:

  •         Foul or rotten smell: You may be dealing with gas leakage
  •         Leaking pressure valve: Do not hesitate; get it fixed
  •         Faulty installation: Again, do not attempt to install your water heater yourself. It is also important to let a professional plumber      take care of the job.
  •        When a water heater is overworking: Sediment at the bottom of the tank can hit the burner and cause it to overwork. This means the burner works more to achieve the preset temperature, and that also increases the heat in the tank, which may cause an explosion.


While most of us are interested in mythbusters water heater explosion posts, the truth is hot water heater explosions are not a good sight as they are capable of causing devastating injuries. It is important to keep everything in place and prevent this from happening. Constantly checking the pressure and relief valve and ensuring that you do not leave gas leaks unattended are ways to reduce the risk of explosion and keep your house safe.

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