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Can Your Water Heater Explode? Warning Signs & Prevention

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Water heaters are incredibly important and the vast majority of us have them in our home. You may worry about your water heater exploding and that’s a very good area to think about. 

We’ve decided to create a very helpful guide for you to know if your water heater can explode, what the warning signs are – and what you can ultimately do to prevent a water heater disaster. 

So, let’s get into it. 

So, Can Your Water Heater Explode?!

So, Can Your Water Heater Explode!

The first thing we want to talk about is how does your water heater actually work? So, most of us don’t really understand this process.

We just assume that when the hot water comes out of the spout on top of the tank, it’s going to be at a certain temperature. But, this isn’t always true.

The truth is, there are two different types of water heaters: gas-fired and electric. And each one has its own unique way of working. So, let’s take a look at both.

Gas-Fired Water Heaters

Gas-Fired Water Heaters

This type of water heater uses natural gas as fuel. It’s an energy source that burns methane, which is found underground.

When methane burns, it creates carbon dioxide and water vapor. The water vapor then gets heated up by the burner in the bottom of the tank. 

When the water reaches the desired temperature, the valve shuts off, allowing the hot water to flow through the pipes and into your house.

Electric Water Heaters

Electric Water Heaters

This type of water heating system works differently than the gas-fired ones. Instead of using natural gas, they use electricity to generate heat.

They’re also called “tankless” or “on demand” because they only heat the water when someone wants it. 

They have a large reservoir inside the tank where the water sits until it needs to be used.

Then, the thermostat turns on and heats the water from the outside of the tank. This means the water doesn’t need to travel anywhere before it’s ready to use. 

Now that we know how these work, we can answer – yes. It is possible for your water heater to explode.

What Are The Warning Signs That Your Water Heater Is About To Explode?

There are several signs that your water heater could potentially explode. Here are some of the more common ones.

A Sudden Increase In Pressure

If you notice a sudden increase in pressure coming from your water heater, it could mean that something is wrong with the water heater itself.

If you see any of these signs, contact a professional right away.

Water Leaks From Tank

Another sign that your water heater might explode is if you notice leaks around the base of the unit.

This should never happen. If you find any leaky areas, call a plumber immediately. 

Sudden Boiling Over

You’ll often hear people say that their water heater will boil over. What they mean is that the water level in the tank rises too high and starts boiling. This can cause steam to build up in the room. 

If you see this happening, turn down the temperature setting on your thermostat and contact a professional for assistance. 

Burning Smell

If you smell burning odors coming from your water heater or other appliances in your home, it could be due to a problem with the electrical wiring.

Turn off all power sources to your home and call a professional immediately.

These are just a few of the warning signs that your water heater may explode. There are many others, so make sure you pay attention to them.

How Can You Prevent An Explosion?

There are a few things you can do to prevent an explosion. Here’s a few of them. 

Maintain Hygiene 

The best way to prevent an explosion is to keep your water heater clean.

A dirty water heater can lead to problems like rust, corrosion, and mold growth. All of these things can contribute to a potential explosion.

Regular Maintenance 

Keep your water heater well maintained. It’s always a good idea to check the condition of the tank regularly and replace filters monthly.

Also, check the connections and make sure they aren’t leaking.

Regular Checks 

We said you should check your system monthly, and that is true. However, it’s always wise to set out a date every six months or every year for a professional to come out and check everything over.

It may cost a few dollars, but you’ll have peace of mind. Remember, it’s cheaper to pay for a professional check than it is to repair a disaster.

Don’t Overload

Make sure your water heater isn’t overloaded and don’t run multiple appliances at once. Keep the amount of water flowing through your water heater to a minimum.


Don’t leave your water heater unattended. If you must leave your home while it’s running, make sure there are no children or pets near the appliance.

Although unlikely, there is a chance that pets or children can mess around with things and cause problems.

Additionally, make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and install safety devices such as carbon monoxide detectors.

These are just a few ways to help prevent an explosion. Make sure you take care of these issues before one happens.

What Happens When My Water Heater Explodes?

When your water heater explodes, it creates a lot of damage. Not only does it destroy the appliance itself, but it also destroys surrounding items.

The most common thing damaged when a water heater explodes is the house itself.

That’s because the force of the blast usually causes the walls and windows to break. In addition to destroying the building, the heat and flames can also burn nearby objects.

In some cases, the fire can spread throughout the entire house. That means not only will the walls get destroyed, but so will the floors.

If you’re lucky enough to escape without injury, you’ll have to deal with a massive rebuild. Not just of your home, but of your lives. So what can you expect exactly?


The first thing you need to know is how much damage your water heater has caused. This will depend on several factors including:

How big was the explosion? Was it small or large? Did it happen in a confined space or did it blow up into the whole room? How long did it last? Was it short-lived or did it go on for hours?

What were the effects? Were there any injuries? Where was the explosion? Was this inside the house or outside?

These questions along with so many others will determine how much damage your water heating system explosion has done.


Once you’ve figured out how much damage your water heaters have done, you’ll be able to estimate how much money you’ll spend fixing the problem.

This will include replacing the tank, repairing the walls, flooring, and other parts of the house that were affected. You might even have to replace the roof if it was damaged too.This all depends on how bad the damage is.


After the explosion, you’ll want to call for help immediately. They’ll assess the situation and tell you whether you need to evacuate your home.

They’ll also give you advice about how to avoid another incident like this from happening again.

If you do decide to stay put, they’ll let you know which areas of your home should be avoided. For example, if there’s a gas leak, you won’t want to be anywhere near those rooms.

You’ll also want to contact your insurance company right away. They’ll handle everything from filing claims to helping you file them.

How Often Do Water Heaters Explode?

How Often Do Water Heaters Explode

Water heaters don’t explode very often. However, they can still cause a lot of damage. So it’s important to keep an eye on them. Statistics show that around 1% of all water heaters explode every year.

To ensure you’re not going to be part of the statistics, ensure you’ve taken all preventive steps. However, if you are unfortunate, you should always do the following:

  • Remain calm 
  • Evacuate you and your family from the home 
  • Call for emergency services 
  • Call your plumber (may have to call an emergency number if it’s out of hours)

The Bottom Line

The point is – yes, a water heater can explode but there are ways for you to avoid this from happening. Always keep up to date with checks, cleanliness and safety and you should be fine.

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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