Serious injury caused by storage water heaters are uncommon, but several types of tank malfunctions can result in possibly fatal scenarios. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Safety and Security warned homeowners that burns and explosions can be caused by untrained installation, malfunctioning pressure or temperature valves and inconsistent maintenance. Scale build up inside storage tanks can contribute to dangerous breakdowns as well. Homeowners interested in eliminating this household risk can do so by replacing their aging tank storage heater. Electric tankless models avoid the safety risks associated with traditional water heaters by nature of their compact, efficient design.
Excess pressure equals violent rupture
Improper or insufficient maintenance increases the probability of a storage tank heater experience a boiling liquid vapor explosion, or BLEVE. This violent exothermic reaction is caused by an overabundance of water vapor inside the water heater, caused by a failure in the appliance to release pressure from the tank. The increasing volume of gas, combined with the massive amount of energy released by liquid water changing phases into its gaseous form, provide more than enough to pressure to violently burst open the metal exterior of a water heater. If this tank failure occurs near a flammable material, such as a gas fuel line, the resulting reaction could produce an even larger, more dangerous reaction. Even the most well-maintained storage tank heaters are vulnerable to explosion risks caused by human error.
No tank, no explosion
Tank explosions may not occur often, but the risk faced by homeowners is very real. WISH 8 News, reporting from Albion, Indiana, noted that a local man was killed on Nov. 1 when his water heater exploded while he performed maintenance. Just a month earlier on Sept 22, a couple was working on their hot water heater when it exploded, causing serious injury to the parents of four children, according to Fox 2. Second- and third-third degree burns covered over half of the couple's bodies, injuries typical after a boiling vapor vapor explosion.
These recent incidents highlight the need for a safer, less accident prone water heater. Tankless electric models, for example, are free of many of the design problems that lead storage tanks to explode in the first place. Since tankless water heaters heat water on-demand, there is no way for water vapor to build up to the point of rupturing the appliance. Electric models also lack gas fuel lines, reducing the risk of larger, fiery eruptions. High-end models are designed to prevent scale accumulation and pressure build-up as well
Burn risks nullified
The Safe Kids 2014 Burns and Fire Safety Fact Sheet points out that many homeowners underestimate the harm that burn risks from scalding tap water can cause their family. Water burns are most common in the bathroom, a room that less than 10 percent of homeowners consider a risky area for burns. NPR explained that these tap water burns, which have a high risk for infection, are responsible over 1,500 hospital visits and 100 fatalities a year, stressing the need for a water heater that delivers hot water at a reliable temperature.
Top-tier tankless water heaters are the perfect solution for homeowners motivated to protect their household from tap water burns. These high-efficiency appliances are used by professional contractors as compliance solutions for hot water delivery in public environments, thanks to built-in temperature controls that keep water temperatures accurate within a single degree. Tankless water heaters can deliver same consistent water heat in residential applications as well.