Water Heater Safety
How safe is your water heater?
The explosion of a tank type water heater can be caused by a malfunction which causes the heater to continue to heat even though the set point of the thermostat has been reached. Water heaters are designed to operate safely with a (T&P) valve to automatically release excessive pressure to prevent an explosion. Manufacturers instructions suggest at least an annual testing of this T&P valve to be sure it would function if such a malfunction were to occur. When was the last time you tested yours? In some hard-water areas, as many as one out of every four T&P valves fail this annual test. Such water heaters are a disaster awaiting only the malfunction of a thermostat to explode with devastating fury.
Water heaters are one of the most beneficial components of our homes providing hot water for baths, washing of clothes and dishes for their lifetime if properly cared for. If not properly maintained they can explode with destructive force comparable to the chaos we see on television caused by suicide bombers in some parts of the world. Many are concerned about the suicide bomber but pay no attention to the potential for such occurrence in their own home. Any home owner who fails to maintain the T&P valve properly may unknowingly and unwittingly become a suicide bomber in his or her own residence.
Click on the picture above for an example of water heater hazards.
Hot Water Temperature Will Scald
|Length of time for
hot water to cause burns
|113�F||45�C||2 hours||3 hours|
|117�F||47�C||20 minutes||45 minutes|
|118�F||48�C||15 minutes||20 minutes|
|120�F||49�C||8 minutes||10 minutes|
|124�F||51�C||2 minutes||4.2 minutes|
|131�F||55�C||17 seconds||30 seconds|
|140�F||60�C||3 seconds||5 seconds|
*1 - no permanent tissue damage
*2 - tissue destroyed
Table courtesy of The Shriners Burn Institute