General Causes for Catastrophic Hot Water Heater and Home Heating Boiler Failures

  1. Improper adjustment of temperature and pressure controls
  2. Altered safety valves or relief valves
  3. Work performed by unqualified or untrained personnel Check a license!
  4. Lack of routine inspection and proper maintenance
  5. Improper installation
  6. Lack of proper controls and safety devices

What Home Owners Should Do To Minimize the Potential of a Catastrophic Failure

  1. Have your home heating boilers cleaned and services annually by qualified personnel..
  2. On hot water heaters, it is recommended to manually lift the relief valve every two months and at the least once a year to ensure they open freely. Due to the relatively low cost of safety valves for this service, it is recommended that a defective valve be replaced with a new valve if the valve does not open easily or close tightly.
  3. Make sure your hot water heater has a relief device that protects the heater from excessive pressure AND temperature. Pressure & temperature relief valves (commonly known as PT valves) are noticeably different from a regular relief valve due to its long protruding temperature element attached to the inlet of the valve.
  4. Regardless of the condition of the "PT Valve", replace the pressure & temperature relief valve on your hot water heater every three years.
  5. Maintain a temperature set point not to exceed 180°F on any heating boiler or hot water heater. Water temperature should NEVER exceed 212°F on these units. Boiler or hot water heater failures with water temperatures exceeding 212°F can result in catastrophic explosions that can level homes.

Effects of a 5 gallon hot water heater explosion - Avon High School 5/11/00