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WATER HEATER EXPLOSIONS - REMEDIES
Michael LeavittOkay, before I offer suggested remedies, you have to take a moment and decide whether you want to prevent a catastrophic water heater explosion, or whether you want to continue on in ignorance and posibly destroy your home, destroy your possessions, and possibly lose your life and the lives of those you love. If you don’t care, then continue on without further action and never know when the ticking time bomb will explode. History shows that it can happen to electric water heaters, gas water heaters, boilers, and other types of heated pressurized water systems. The sun, moon, and stars, have to align, as well as multiple component failures to occur, but when they do the results have been shown to be devastating... I’ll step down off my soap box now and share some straight-forward steps to prevent a water heater explosion in your home or place of business!

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

  • BRV - Combination ball valve and thermal relief valve
  • BOLLARD - A protective post that prevents appliance damage from automobiles.
  • GAS PIPE DRIPS & SEDIMENT TRAPS - Supply piping details.
  • EXPANSION TANK OR VALVE - Used on all newer housing to reduce the pressure of expanding hot water during the heating process.
  • PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE - This is the verbiage used in the IRC, but are more commonly called water pressure regulators. This device reduces the high water pressure from the street to below 80 pounds inside the home.
  • SRV - Safety Relief Valve - Another way of stating Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
  • TPR - Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
  • T&P VALVE - Another way of stating Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve.
  • WATTS 80M2 - A combination toilet fill valve and thermal expansion relief valve.
  • WPRV - Water pressure reducing valve - See pressure reducing valve above.
TPR TESTING
Expansion Tank
Pressure Regulators
Thermal Relief Valve
Watts 80M2
TPR TESTING
EXPANSION TANK
PRESSURE REGULATOR
THERMAL RELIEF VALVE
THERMAL RELIEF

TEST YOUR TPR VALVE - This seems simple, yet most homeowners have never done this. It should be tested every year (6 months is even better) to ensure that it is not stuck and would not bleed off the pressure if burner gets stuck on and the tank overheats.

TPR TagVERIFY THAT YOU HAVE A TPR VALVE - Make certain you have a combination temperature and pressure relieve valve. Similar looking valves can be temperature only and pressure only. Many manufacturers include a new TPR valve already installed on the new water heater unit to help prevent explosions, but older units required the installer to also install the TPR valve. You will need a magnifying glass to read the fine print unless you have really good eyes. Or you can take a picture of the metal ID tag and then blow it up on your computer. On the Watts 100XL model in the photo to the right you can see both the temperature and pressure listings in the red circle.
TEST THE TPR VALVE AT LEAST ANNUALLY - “TPR Testing
DON’T RE-USE THE TPR VALVE - When you replace the water heater, then you should replace the TPR valve.
REPLACE/INSPECT TPR VALVE EVERY 3 YEARS - See the warning from Watts - “WATTS’ WARNING”
VERIFY TPR DRAIN LINE IS NOT OBSTRUCTED - Many homeowners see a drip and then they attempt to cap off the TPR drain pipe. INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTIAL CODE GUIDELINES
DRAIN YOUR TANK - It is important to drain the sediment from the bottom or your tank.
INSTALL A NEW ANODE ROD - It is important to remove and inspect your anode rod at least every 3 years and replace as needed. HOW TO REPLACE ANODE ROD - www.Diptube.info

DO YOU HAVE A WORKING EXPANSION TANK/VALVE? - Newer houses are built with expansion tanks or valves to help with the pressures of expanding water during the normal water heating cycles. Look for a light blue, tan, or white tank above the water heater. Many homes have expansion valves instead and they are located on the inlet pipe above the unit and typically have a 1/4” plastic drain line connected to drain off the expanded water. EXPANSION TANK / EXPANSION VALVE / EXPANSION TOILET FLUSH VALVE

WARNING: Missing or failed expansion tank units cause the TPR valve to open and bleed off water during the heating cycle. TPR valves were not designed to open and close multiple times each day. The corrosion will build-up and they will drip non-stop causing a well intentioned homeowner to cap off the discharge line. Capping off the line bypasses this huge safety feature and brings the water heater one step closer to an exploding water heater. Now all that is needed is for the heat source to get stuck in the on posion and overheat the water...... tick, tick, tick,..... Say goodbye!!!

NewCLEARANCE TO COMBUSTIBLES - What’s wrong with storing items near gas and electric water heaters?
BOLLARD OR PROTECTIVE BARRIERS - How do you protect water heaters installed in garages from being struck with automobiles?
SIZING YOUR WATER HEATER - How big of a unit should be installed in your home?
 
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Michael LeavittMichael Leavitt & CoMichael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.
 
Orem, Utah 84057
801-636-6816

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