How Poor Maintenance Makes Your Water Heater Dangerous

Most plumbing installations need regular maintenance. Regular maintenance enhances efficiency and safety. For example, your water heater can be a danger to your house if you neglect it. Here are some of the dangerous effects of a poorly maintained water heater.


Scalding can occur if the water temperature is unreasonably high and something is exposed to the water. Here are some specific failures that can lead to scalding:

  • The water heater temperature is set too high
  • The water heater pressure and temperature relief valve malfunctions and the tank explodes
  • The drain discharge location makes it easy for water to spill on a bystander

The above are just a few examples of how water heater malfunctions can cause scalding. Anything that exposes you to unreasonably high water pressure can lead to scalding.

Fire Outbreaks or Explosions

A malfunctioning water heater can also cause a fire outbreak that can cause serious injuries and damages. Below are some of the reasons your water heater might trigger a fire:

  • The water heater suffers an electrical malfunction, such as damage to electrical connections, which triggers an electrical fire
  • The automatic gas shutoff fails, and the heater continues to run at elevated temperatures
  • A failure or debris buildup in the flue vent triggers a flue fire
  • Someone puts a combustible material, such as fuel, near the water heater, and it explodes

The risk of fire comes from three main sources — high temperatures, fuel supply issues, and electrical malfunctions. Control those things, and you reduce your risk of water heater fire considerably. 

CO Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that is a byproduct of combustion. The gas is poisonous and can lead to multiple respiratory problems or even death. Ordinarily, the water heater design allows the CO to vent safely out of the house. Here are some specific issues that can lead to CO poisoning:

  • Poor air circulation that leads to poor combustion and elevated CO production
  • Pressure imbalance that forces flue gases back into the house
  • Flue pipe damage that leads to spillage of flue gases

The above are just a few examples. Anything that interferes with the combustion and exhaust system of your water heater can lead to CO poisoning.

If you haven't been taking care of your water heater, contact a plumber for the long-overdue maintenance. Hopefully, the intervention will be in time to prevent any danger that would otherwise have occurred.

To learn more, contact a resource like Knights Plumbing & Drain.