What Causes a Hot Water Heater to Burst

Dougs - What Causes a Hot Water Heater to Burst

Many plumbing issues can go wrong quickly inside the home, but perhaps the scariest one is when a water heater bursts. Indeed, this is a terrible problem that many homeowners want to avoid, and for good reason. As one of the leading plumbers in Houma, LA, we’ve seen many awful consequences of this problem, including: 

  • Water heater damage
  • Structural damage
  • Electrical hazards
  • Disruption of utilities
  • Mold growth
  • Safety hazards

It is right to assume that most people prefer to avoid these problems, but avoiding them means that you must be aware of what causes them in the first place. In this blog, we will provide the most common causes of a burst water heater and tell you the one thing you can do to prevent it. 

Excessive Pressure

The first apparent cause of a water heater bursting is excessive pressure that builds up to the point of an explosion. This issue is usually caused by problems like: 

  • Temperature and pressure valve malfunction
  • Faulty pressure regulating valve
  • Closed system expansion
  • Elevated temperature settings
  • Thermal expansion
  • Water pressure from the supply source

Sediment Buildup

As the water heater works hard to serve your home, mineral deposits and sediment accumulates at the bottom of the tank. This accumulation causes the tank to overheat, which weakens the structures. If the sediment isn’t cleared out, the chances of it bursting increase as it works hard to produce the same hot water despite the accumulation. This is why plumbers in Houma, LA take the time to flush out the tanks during plumbing inspections. 


Corrosion can occur both on the inside and outside of the tank. The interaction between the water and the metal tank often causes internal corrosion. External corrosion can result from exposure to moisture or other corrosive elements. Corrosion weakens the tank and increases the risk of a rupture.

  • Poor water chemistry, like hard water
  • Anode rod deterioration
  • Oxygen exposure
  • High water temperature
  • Poor installation or maintenance

Age and Wear

Like most appliances in the home, hot water heaters have a limited lifespan. If your water heater is 15-20 years old, it can get worn out enough to the point of bursting. The tank will deteriorate and will become a bursting hazard. To avoid this from happening, make sure you replace your water heater as soon as it hits its lifespan and begins to show signs of wear and tear. 


Sometimes hot water heaters begin to overheat. This is caused by a malfunctioning thermostat, which often disrupts the temperatures making the temperatures go up too high. High temperatures cause the tank’s pressure levels to go and cause it to burst. 

Faulty Installation

Many things can go wrong when critical equipment, like a water heater, is installed incorrectly. The water heater will malfunction and wear out quickly, leading to an unexpected rupture. For this reason, it is crucial to hire only the best plumbers in Houma, LA, to install your water heater. 

How To Flush Your Tank

One thing we can recommend that you do to avoid a bursting water tank is to flush your tank periodically. This is important to do at least once a year to clear out sediment build-up. Doing so will also extend the lifespan of your water tank, ensure clean water, and maintain its peak efficiency. 


Here are the steps to follow to flush your tank by yourself: 

1. Turn off the water & power supply

First, turn off your water and power supply and grab a bucket and garden hose. 

2. Attach a garden hose

Locate the drain valve at the bottom of your water tank, attach the garden hose, and drop its other end into the bucket or a safe place outside. 

3. Let some air into the tank

Walk into your home and open a hot water faucet to allow air to enter the tank. 

4. Open the drain valve

Next, open the drain valve and allow the water to flow out of the tank and into the bucket. You may need to empty out this bucket several times as the water completely flows out of the tank. Do this until you no longer see sediment flowing out of the tank. 

5. Close the drain valve

Once the water is emptied out of the tank, close the drain valve and remove the hose. 

6. Turn the water supply back on

Turn the water back on and close the water faucet you opened earlier. Make sure to restore the power or gas supply to the water heater. 

Call Us for the Top Plumbers in Houma, LA

If flushing the water tank seems cumbersome, don’t sweat it! Call Doug’s Service Company today and let the pros do it! Our plumbers are some of the most qualified professionals in the area who will help you ensure your water tank is functioning at its best. Give us a call at (985) 217-9023.

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