Have you ever seen that one episode of MythBusters where the hosts manage to explode a water heater? The massive amount of damage that happened to the simulated home could easily happen to your real home if your water heater fails due to neglect or misuse. Fortunately, you can keep your home safe and your water heater from achieving unexpected flight simply by following these three maintenance tips.
Remove Calcium and Lime Deposits on a Regular Basis
The dissolved calcium and lime found in your home's water supply can precipitate and build up inside of your water heater. These mineral deposits can actually create localized hotspots that increase water temperatures, leading to unpleasant knocking noises and reduced energy efficiency. Draining and flushing your water heater on an annual basis can help remove calcium and lime deposits from your water heater.
Keep Water Temperatures at Reasonable Levels
Excess water temperatures can pose a hazard on two separate fronts - not only can it create a scalding hazard for hot water users throughout your home, but it can also put your hot water heater at greater risk of an explosion. Keeping your hot water heater's temperature at around 125 degrees Fahrenheit not only lowers the risk of scalding and other serious injuries, but it also reduces the likelihood of catastrophic failure.
Keep an Eye on Your T/P Relief Valve
The temperature/pressure relief valve protects your hot water heater by bleeding off any excess pressure that accumulates within the water heater tank. For this reason alone, it's important to have a seasoned service technician thoroughly check the condition of this relief valve annually. It's not unusual for the T/P relief valve to freeze in position due to rust, corrosion, or calcium buildup.
Older T/P relief valves are also prone to age-related failures, preventing your water heater from releasing built-up pressures and placing it at greater risk of exploding. T/P relief valves should be replaced every three years to prevent such failures from occurring.
Watch Out for Gas Line Leaks
If your home uses a gas-powered hot water heater, a nearby gas leak can prove dangerous and even deadly for you and others in your home. An errant spark from your water heater can easily result in a devastating explosion. If you ever smell a strong odor of natural gas near your water heater or otherwise suspect a natural gas leak, you should exit your home immediately and have your gas company investigate and repair the leak.