Can a hot water heater explode? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dh just told me that our hot water heater could blow up if I turn it up to high. We keep it normally on the low end of high but I wanted to strip the dipes, for preventative reasons, so I turned it to med high. It has no temps. It is old. Half an hour later, I proceed to begin to wash the dipes and I casually tell dh what I am doing. He panics and tells me that I am going to blow up the house. Steam is going to build up in the hot water heater and blow up the house. So I turn it down and promise never to do that again.

Is he right? Wouldn't a hot water heater be made to let steam vent out? It has a vent for pete's sake!

My dh is prone to panicking a bit needlessly so this could just be an example.

What do you think? Lots of people run their hot water heaters hot for a while to strip dipes and presumably they do not blow up their houses. But, maybe it is possible? Frankly, I have heard of gas explosions but never a hot water heater explosions.

Thoughts? Should I just tell him to have a beer and don't worry or should I listen to him? Maybe never tell him again if I turn it on again?


Or could he be correct?



attn mods: I have no idea if this is a parents as partners issue, home management, diapers, or what, so I put it here.
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#2 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 10:00 PM
 
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Ooh, Mythbusters did an episode on this! The only way they got it to explode was to disable every single safety device on it (and there were several). Tell your husband he's paranoid, even turning the thermostat up to high won't make it blow. Hello, if it was that dangerous they wouldn't make it so the thermostat would go up to high!

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#3 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 10:03 PM
 
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If the vent and overflow pipes failed to function properly or got overwhelmed from the pressure, yes, it could explode.

There's a specific term for that type of explosion from boiling liquid in a tank, but I forget what the initials stand for beyond Boiling Liquid E V ?.

If it happened in just the right way, the tank could end up flying through a wall or the roof. Some of those have gone miles.

One would assume that the heat settings would be such that they'd not be so high as to cause that, but....

"What will you do once you know?"
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#4 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 10:06 PM
 
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Our plumber freaked out once because our water heater was turned up very high, AND something was wrong with its emergency vent valve. (We'd called him because it was dripping -- turned out the safety vent had blown about halfway from the pressure, then got stuck.) He fixed it up, turned it down to, oh, 3/4 of a shower, and instructed us to call IMMEDIATELY if the vent ever acted weird again.
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#5 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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No, not unless the valve on the heater itself and the house supply valve go. And you would know on the heater- it would leak. I would turn it down when you're done with the dipes though just so your kids don't get accidentally burned from the tap.
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#6 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 10:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeMommy View Post
Ooh, Mythbusters did an episode on this! The only way they got it to explode was to disable every single safety device on it (and there were several). Tell your husband he's paranoid, even turning the thermostat up to high won't make it blow. Hello, if it was that dangerous they wouldn't make it so the thermostat would go up to high!
That was one of the most awesome mythbusters EH-VAH! (Not if you lived in the house, though).
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#7 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 10:44 PM
 
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What they said.

Incidentally, it's called a BLEVE, pronounced "BLEH-vee."
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#8 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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After he calmed down, he said that it would just leak. Um, I was only turning it up for one wash cycle. :
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#9 of 15 Old 01-19-2008, 11:40 PM
 
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Don't you watch mythbusters?!?!?!?!

Yes, they can explode! Google around on YouTube and you'll probably find the episode clip Twas very cool... but umm... I think you have to turn it up all the way and disable all the safety stuff in order for it to do so... but it can totally happen
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#10 of 15 Old 01-20-2008, 12:25 AM
 
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My hubby that is in the industry said technically it can blow up but only if the pressure relief valve malfunctions.
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#11 of 15 Old 01-20-2008, 12:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeMommy View Post
Ooh, Mythbusters did an episode on this! The only way they got it to explode was to disable every single safety device on it (and there were several). Tell your husband he's paranoid, even turning the thermostat up to high won't make it blow. Hello, if it was that dangerous they wouldn't make it so the thermostat would go up to high!
Saw that episode!

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#12 of 15 Old 01-20-2008, 12:56 AM
 
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I would so not worry about that. as long as the vents are not blocked, its not gonna blow up.

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#13 of 15 Old 01-20-2008, 01:00 AM
 
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You could always boil water and dump it into the washing machine. Unless you have a front loader, then you probably couldn't.

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#14 of 15 Old 01-20-2008, 01:07 AM
 
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You've got one of those little valves on the side right? The pressure release ones that the manual has all kinds of warnings about not blocking them off or breaking them and such?

If yes, it won't blow.

If that's been tampered with you're at risk every single time you use your water heater at any temperature and you need a new water heater.
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#15 of 15 Old 01-20-2008, 01:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delphiniumpansy View Post
After he calmed down, he said that it would just leak. Um, I was only turning it up for one wash cycle. :
tell him if that freaks him out so much you can put a towel down.
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