The answer is a resounding YES. Electric water heaters absolutely can explode.
That’s not to say you should necessarily be concerned.
Water heaters that are installed and maintained properly almost never do so, and having a legitimate technician install and maintain your water heater is always the best option. They’re trained to know what can and does go wrong with them, and how to prevent them.
The dangers with water heaters come when they are not properly maintained or installed. Keep an eye out for signs that your water heater may explode:
Signs That Your Electric Water Heater May Explode
- Popping, knocking, or banging noises – Sounds kind of like popcorn coming from inside the heater? Over time, sediments can build up in your water heater, creating blockages for heated water to rise up. The popping noise is the water bubbling underneath the buildup as it escapes.
- Sulfur or rotten egg smell – This is usually indicative of a gas leak, and should be considered immediately dangerous. You should turn off the gas as soon as possible and call a professional. This generally isn’t an issue with electric water heaters, but if you switched from gas to electric, there is a possibility that the original gas line was not properly capped.
- Leaking pressure relief valve – Usually located near the top of the heater, it releases pressure and water from the tank. If this valve is leaking, it indicates that the pressure is too high inside the water tank, and can explode if too much builds. The water heater should be turned off immediately if you notice this.
- Improperly installed heater connections – An improperly installed water heater runs all kinds of risks of an explosion, and it’s always good to get a reputable technician to install and service your water heater.
- Brown sediment in your water – When sediments build up inside your water tank, eventually they loosen and flow with your water. This indicates that enough sediment has built up inside for it to become a blockage, and can cause an explosion.
How to Prevent your Electric Water Heater from Exploding
There are several things you can do to ensure the maintenance of your water heater, and subsequently the safety of your home.
- Check the temperature and pressure valve – By knowing the regular operating limits of your water heater, you can check on the T&P valve to see if it goes wrong at any time.
- Lower the water temperature – It should be set between 120-130*F, with general recommendations at 125*F. Anything higher than that can result in scalding, burning, or hurt skin, as well as serious damage to your water heater and sewage system.
- Schedule an annual tune-up – Staying on top of your water heater’s maintenance should always include a certified and reliable technician taking care of it. Your technician will be able to flush your water heater at the same time that they check for malfunctions, which will also make your water taste better and your unit run more efficiently.
- Let the professionals do the work – As tempting as it is to do work ourselves for cheaper rates, this can result in some shoddy or inexperienced work. A water heater that’s not properly installed or repaired runs a higher risk of exploding. It’s always best to let professionals handle any and all repairs.