What to do if the Hot Water Heater Bursts

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The hot water heater in your home is an amazing device. It can rapidly provide heated water for showers, dishes, laundry, and so on and so forth. It can do this because as it empties it continuously refills, making its water supply basically unlimited. Unfortunately, its constant refilling ability can also cause some serious trouble, should the tank begin to leak or experience a build-up of pressure. If it remains undetected, depending on the severity of the issue, it could result in the water heater bursting which could then cause your home or office to suffer some serious water damage.

What Causes a Hot Water Heater to Burst?

When a water heater bursts it is often due to pressure build-up within the tank. As water is heated, it expands and creates pressure that needs to be released through an overflow valve. However, if the temperature and pressure valve is faulty or becomes blocked, the pressure has nowhere to go and can cause the tank to burst. Sediment buildup within the tank can also contribute to increased pressure, overheating, and weakening of the tank's walls over time. Additionally, rust from a failed anode rod can cause the tank to start to corrode which can lead it to eventually bursting.

Signs Your Water Heater Is Going to Explode:

  • The pressure valve is leaking
  • The system is making popping or knocking noises
  • The water heater is emitting a sulfur-like smell
  • The water coming from the system is discolored
  • The temperature and pressure relief valve is constantly open

Can a Leaking Water Heater Explode?

A leaking water heater is often a sign of a more serious underlying problem with the system. While there are various types of leaks that can develop with your hot water heater, a leak from the tank could indicate that there is an excessive amount of internal pressure within the tank. And, as previously mentioned, excess pressure is a common reason why water heaters burst. Therefore, if you notice your water heaters tank is leaking, it’s best to have a plumber inspect the system to determine the source of the leak so a repair can be performed to prevent any damage to the system or your home.

What Happens When a Water Heater Bursts?

When a water heater bursts, it can release gallons of water, which can then seep into the walls, floorboards, carpets, and ceilings of your home. Not only can this potentially lead to structural issues, depending on the extent of water damage, but it can also create a perfect environment for mold to begin growing. This excess water can even cause electrical hazards and pose a potential fire risk. If left unchecked for too long, the damage can be costly to repair.

What to Do When Your Water Heater Bursts

Investing in regular maintenance and an inspection of your water heater can help prevent the system from bursting. However, if your water heater has already burst or you discover water near where your hot water tank is located be sure to take the following steps.

Step 1: Turn off the water

As soon as you find water coming from your hot water heater or you suspect the system might burst, you'll want to close off the water supply line to the tank. This will generally be a pipe that leads from the main water line to the top of the water heater. There should be a valve near where the water supply line meets the tank, twist it clockwise to stop water from entering the tank.

Step 2: Turn off the power

There is an electric or gas heating element inside the hot water tank that is designed to be submerged. If the tank continuously empties the element will be left out to dry, which can turn it into a major fire hazard. While the element is designed to shut off by itself when water reaches a certain temperature, a burst or leaking tank will likely cause it to malfunction and stay on. Find the breaker for the hot water tank in your electrical box and flip it, to ensure it is shut off.

Step 3: Contact an Emergency Plumber

Once the water and power are off you will want to contact an emergency plumber who can aid in the cleanup and replacement of your water heater and plumbing system. You may also want to reach out to your insurance company, depending on how bad the damage is.

If you need emergency water heater services in Kingwood or the surrounding area be sure to reach out to GAP Plumbing. We're available 24 hours a day to assist with plumbing emergencies, including hot water heater trouble. To learn more about our services or to request the assistance of an expert plumber, contact us online.