A water heater explosion can be a very dangerous event. The Internet is full of deadly incidents in which exploding water heaters literally shattered houses, restaurants and even schools. A particularly lethal blast occurred in Texas in 1982 and sadly caused the death of six school children and a teacher. The cause was lack of proper safety inspections, and as a result the heater fell into disrepair.
The key to preventing or failing to prevent these lethal explosions is the tiny temperature and pressure safety valve.Normally, whenever the internal pressure of a domestic heater hits 165 degrees, the TP valve will begin to do its job. Rising pressure caused by the expansion of heated water is released through the valve in the form of steam and hot water. Sadly, despite the inherent dangers in misuse of this valve, many DIY homeowners mistakenly believe the steam and hot water flowing from this valve is the result of a minor plumbing problem. Thinking they can easily repair the problem, the confused homeowner will either try and turn the valve off or worse, plug it up and thus stop the "leak." The results can be catastrophic. The pressure in the tank can rapidly build to a level more than twice the maximum specified capacity for the tank. Suddenly the tank will give way and an enormous explosion will ensue.
Four rules can protect a homeowner from the dangers of a water heater explosion.
1. If a homeowner sees the TP valve dribbling hot water and steam, don't try and plug it himself. Call a licensed plumber and let him handle the problem.
2. Check your T & P valve at least once a year.
3. Don't try and save money by hiring a handyman to fix your TP valve. That has caused more than one heater explosion. Instead be sure to use a licensed plumber to repair the valve.
4. Should your home own an old heater, check it out to make sure it is equipped with a T & P valve, as not every old heater has one. If your tank doesn't have a valve, call a plumber to install one.
These four precautionary rules are easy to follow, but they can save lives and money. Remember, under the worst of circumstances, your water heater might take off like a rocket, travel through each story of your house, blow through the roof, and land blocks away causing terrible damage to a neighbor's house.
If you notice water or steam coming from your T & P valve, call a plumber right away.
According to Byron Graham, a Baltimore Plumber
with A-1 Plumbing of Baltimore, a Baltimore plumbing
company, water heater explosions
are among the most avoidable plumbing emergencies.
plumbing heating, water heater explosion, temperature and pressure valve