Machines help people in every facet of their day-to-day lives, but the catch-22 is that they can often malfunction. Older, beat-up water heaters have a greater chance of defecting simply because they have been in use for so long, and the administrators at Monsignor Matthew F. Clarke School in Wakefield, Rhode Island, found that out the hard way.
According to SFGate, during a school lunch, the school's storage water heater caused a loud "boom" noise and black smoke started exiting from it, prompting a quick evacuation of the school. Storage water heaters are outdated in the sense that they simply cannot handle high-pressure use over a prolonged period of time. The average storage water heater only lasts 10-15 years, according to the Department of Energy, but that lifetime can be cut down quickly the more it is being used.
Point-of-use tankless water heaters
Storage water heaters require long pipes to be run throughout schools and buildings. While this was customary in the 1980s and 1990s, technology has since transformed the way to think about how to get hot water to certain areas.
Point-of-use electric tankless water heaters can easily and conveniently be placed under sinks in every bathroom to bolster the hot water usage at that site. They are small enough that they can fit into small places, and putting them close to the source takes a large amount of pressure off of the overall system. Instead of having to run water 50 or 100 feet to get it to the sink, the water heater only has to pump it a few inches.
Water heating systems can see decreases in production the more irregularly it is used and pushed to the max. Forcing it to pump water long distances contributes even more to its untimely demise. The Monsignor Matthew F. Clarke School could helped to prevent their storage water heater from overheating by strategically placing point-of-use electric tankless water heaters in high-use spots to cut down on the amount of work the machine had to do to produce hot water.
Prevent spiking temperatures
As if an exploding storage water heater wasn't a horrible scenario to envision already, the injury problems can get worse. Storage water heaters tend to malfunction as they age and they are only an unpredictable defect away from harming a child, and schools need to be aware.
"34% of burn unit admissions between 2002-2013 were attributed to scalds."
Children under the age of 5 are one of two groups that are most at risk to be injured by a scald due to their delicate skin, according to The Burn Foundation. It only takes water 1 second at a 156 degree Fahrenheit temperature to scald them. Storage water heaters can cause temperature spikes that could possibly heat the water to this temperature. Because storage water heaters suffer from standby heat loss, where the water stored loses temperature over time, they routinely reheat water stored inside the tank. If any amount of the water has maintained its original temperature, it could come out of the faucet at much higher temperatures than expected.
The American Burn Association also reported that between 2002 and 2013, 34 percent of admissions into a hospital's burn unit came from scalds. This shows that, even though safe water temperatures should be an after-thought, sometimes the unpredictable happens and the person at the faucet is the one who takes the toll.
Electric tankless water heaters feature thermo optical sensors that create hot water on-demand, but also keep track of the temperature. Their reliability in keeping temperatures set at a safe point means less worrying about what comes out of the faucet. Ultimately, they can take unnecessary stress off of an administrators mind.