Hot water units, such as water heaters, can burst for several reasons, leading to potentially significant damage and inconvenience. Here are six common reasons for hot water units to burst:

  1. Corrosion and Rust: Over time, the inner tank of a hot water unit can corrode and develop rust. This corrosion weakens the tank’s structural integrity, making it susceptible to bursting. The reaction between water and the metal tank, especially in areas with hard water, can accelerate corrosion.
  2. Excessive Pressure: If the pressure relief valve (PRV) fails to function correctly, it can allow pressure to build up within the tank. When the pressure exceeds the tank’s capacity, it may rupture or burst, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
  3. Sediment Buildup: Sediment naturally accumulates at the bottom of the hot water tank due to minerals in the water. Over time, this sediment can insulate the bottom of the tank, causing the heating element to overheat. This overheating can lead to a weak spot in the tank and result in a burst.
  4. Overheating: Running the hot water unit at excessively high temperatures can cause the water to expand and create additional pressure within the tank. If the pressure relief valve malfunctions, the increased pressure can lead to a burst.
  5. Age and Wear: Hot water units have a limited lifespan, typically around 10-15 years, depending on the type and maintenance. As the unit ages, the materials and components can deteriorate, making it more prone to failure, including bursting.
  6. Installation Errors: Poor installation can contribute to future problems. If a hot water unit is not installed correctly, with inadequate support, improper connections, or incorrect settings, it can lead to stress on the unit’s structure and increase the risk of bursting.

To prevent hot water unit bursts, regular maintenance is crucial. Flushing the tank to remove sediment, checking and maintaining the pressure relief valve, and ensuring the unit operates within safe temperature limits can help extend the unit’s lifespan and reduce the risk of bursting. When you notice signs of aging or wear, or if your unit is approaching its expected lifespan, consider proactively replacing it to avoid unexpected failures and potential damage.