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Plumbing Blog

Could My Water Heater Explode?

Every plumber is familiar with the panicked voice of a customer who thinks that their water heater is about to explode. But in almost every case, the issue is something far less volatile and worrisome. The panic started when the homeowner noticed a crackling or popping sound coming from the water heater. They assumed that the unit was about to burst and create a flood of hot water and mess. Fortunately, that is not the case. But homeowners need to understand what makes that odd noise and why it is essential to address it.

The Crackling Sound

Water heaters have a heating element inside the tank that heats the water. However, when sediment and mineral buildup are not drained from the tank regularly, the heating element can burn off some of that sediment. That process is what creates the popping or crackling sound that alarms most homeowners. The good news is that this is not an indication that the tank is about to explode. But it is a sign that your water heater needs some TLC.

Proper Water Heater Tank Care

It is essential to know that a water heater tank should be drained and flushed once a year. This process is necessary to eliminate the minerals and buildup inside the tank. Not only will this flush stop that eerie crackling sound, but it will help the heating element do a better job of making your hot water and prevent corrosion. 

The sediment in the holding tank eventually settles to the lower part of the tank near the heating element. And as the mineral buildup increases, it works as an insulator to inhibit the work of the heating element. So as the sediment increases, you could notice that your hot water is now only warm water. But draining the tank and flushing out the sediment will often restore the water to the desired temperature.

Safety Features On A Water Heater

Even knowing that the popping sound is not a sign that your water heater is about to blow, it is helpful to understand the safety feature built into the tank. You know that when water boils, it creates steam and expands. So in many consumers’ minds, a malfunctioning water heater could quickly overheat and blow up. But the manufacturers also thought of that scary scenario. And to protect consumers and their homes, there is a pressure relief valve included on all water heater tanks.

This valve is located near the top of the water heater holding tank and has a short pipe attached. The pipe points toward the ground to ensure that hot water and steam do not shoot out of the valve and burn an innocent bystander. Should the pressure in the tank exceed a safe level, the pressure relief valve opens and drains out hot water or steam. For a water heater tank to explode, that pressure relief valve would need to fail simultaneously with the thermostat. The chances of this are like winning the lottery, only lower.

The Value Of Proper Maintenance

So now that you know draining and flushing a water heater tank will eliminate the scary sounds and sediment, you understand why an annual maintenance appointment is necessary. In addition, your licensed plumber will inspect the pressure relief valve on the side of the holding tank to ensure that it is functioning correctly. That and many other component inspections performed during the service ensure that your water heater is safe and working perfectly. It is a wise investment for your peace of mind and the longevity of the water heater.

Call (214) 388-4525 to schedule your water heater service with the licensed plumbers at Metroplex Leak & Locate.

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