Homeowners warned to do regular checks after water heater explodes in Yanchep

The exploded heater.
The exploded heater.

THE explosion of a water heater in Yanchep has prompted a safety warning from building and energy inspectors.

Last month’s explosion split open the metal casing of a gas water heater outside a former show home, which had recently been sold and occupied.

Inspectors believe the water supply’s high mineral content and infrequent use caused calcium to build up inside the unit, blocking the valves and preventing the thermostat from sensing the water temperature.

“This created a perfect storm where the water heater continued to heat up without the temperature safety controls kicking in, while the heated and pressurised water inside had nowhere to go,” Building Commissioner and Energy Safety director Ken Bowron said.

“Fortunately, no one was injured and incidents such as this are rare.

“However, it is a reminder of the potential dangers and how to prevent them through simple checks, such as opening the valves for a few seconds every six months.

“We advise home owners to follow the maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer, and contact a licensed plumbing contractor if they have any concerns.”

Inspectors reminded owners of all storage water heaters – gas, electric and solar – to follow the recommended maintenance schedule.

Tips for checking a storage water heater

Check the owner’s manual for instructions on your particular system.

Common maintenance recommendations include:

Every six months… gently open and close two levers on the unit’s exterior: the expansion control valve and the temperature pressure relief valve.

Every 12 months… check the unit’s built-in temperature controls are working by making sure the water coming from the nearest tap isn’t too hot.

At least every five years… contact a licensed plumbing contractor to replace valves that control expansion, temperature and pressure. This may need to be done more frequently in hard water areas.

Around every five to 10 years… arrange for a qualified person to replace the anode to help to reduce corrosion. Different anodes suit different water types.

If you go away for a week or more… When you return, clear any hydrogen build-up by turning on a hot tap and checking the water runs freely (not spurting) before using any electrical appliances linked to the hot water system.