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How to tell if your water heater is about to explode

This article is Sponsored by Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

You might not be aware, but your home contains a device with the explosive power to destroy your house. Part bomb, part rocket, if this thing blows it can blast through walls or a roof and soar hundreds of feet into the air.

Once you see its devastating potential, you’ll never view your hot water heater the same. Your local plumber might also become a trusted ally to help keep your family safe.

In case you think the danger is exaggerated, you should watch this clip about a Phoenix man whose home was destroyed when the water heater exploded. The blast also damaged two other homes. The electric water heater landed more than 300 feet away after it blew through the roof.

Because of the size of the blast and the devastation, the FBI and the ATF were both called in to make sure the accident was not due to a bomb-making factory gone awry. They found it was simply an ordinary, albeit faulty, water heater.

If you need more convincing, you can view this video or this one where the television show “Mythbusters” verified the explosive power of typical household water heaters.

Thankfully, such explosions are rare. They occur when pressure from the heated water increases to an unsustainable and unstable level. The risk of an explosion is almost non-existent when a water heater is properly maintained.

Here are some suggestions to protect your home and family from an explosive water heater failure.

  • Have your home water heater cleaned and serviced annually by experienced and licensed professional.
  • Manually lift the relief valve every two months to ensure it opens freely. Replace defective valves immediately.
  • Regardless of condition, replace the pressure and temperature relief valve on your hot water heater every three years.
  • Maintain a temperature set point of less than 140 degrees on any hot water heater.

Hot water heater failures with water temperatures exceeding 212 degrees can result in explosions that can level homes.

You may think you have the ‘know-how’ to make adjustments, but homeowners often make the problem worse. In the case of the Phoenix home, the news report notes that a day prior to the explosion the home’s landlord tried to fix a problem with the water heater on his own.

Opening the pressure relief valve every couple of months is fairly simple, but replacing that valve is a job should be left to an expert.

Other tasks like changing the anode rod won’t improve the safety of your water heater, but they will extend its life and help it to function more efficiently.

If you are a homeowner who wants the security of knowing your home water heater is a working appliance and not a potential bomb, please call a local, experienced and reliable plumbing company to give you peace of mind.

Linda_Stanfiled small new 413About Linda Stanfield 

Linda Stanfield has been offering plumbing services across the Valley for 31 years. She is the only plumber in the state to have won the BBB Ethics Award three times. As a plumbing leader in the valley, she can also be found on TV and YouTube sharing and helping consumers with their plumbing needs.