A hot water heater explosion can be the result of a manufacturer's defect, improper installation or lack of maintenance. Hot water tanks are designed to heat household or commercial water to a safe limit, and avoid creating excessive pressure that would need to be released through the unit's safety valve. For a variety of reasons, a hot water heater can reach unacceptable pressure levels, where failure of the system produces and explosion of scalding water and metal that can cause burns and other injuries to people in the area.
To work efficiently and properly, electrical water heaters require 220 volts of electricity, or double the amount of a common 110 volt electrical outlet. Additionally, the gas water heater requires a steady flow of natural or propane gas ignited by a pilot light. Any malfunction of either system can cause a hot water heater explosion or fire in the home or commercial building. Hot water tanks are usually located in an enclosed area, and can quickly cause serious problems that often go unnoticed until the fire becomes overwhelming.
Improper Manufacture, Installation and Maintenance of Hot Water Heaters
Water heater manufacturers must meet specific federal guidelines and standards during the design, manufacture and assembly of hot water tanks. In addition, licensed plumbing installers must meet legal obligations to ensure that every installed unit meets strict manufacture requirements. When injuries or death occurs as a result of an Illinois hot water heater fire or explosion, all responsible parties share legal liability for the physical injuries, wrongful death and property damage.
In most incidences, a water heater explosion is the result of excessive heat and pressure that builds up inside the hot water tank. In fact, numerous factors could cause a water heater explosion. Some of these causes include:
- Manufacturing Defect – Design flaws or defects during manufacturing can cause a serious explosion or fire in the home or commercial property. These explosions can lead to serious burn injuries or wrongful death. Defects can often go unnoticed for years, and instantly create unacceptable levels of pressure and the potential for an explosion if the pressure cannot be relieved through the safety relief valve.
- Improper Installation – Often times, serious injuries and wrongful deaths occur during a hot water tank explosion or fire when the installing contractor placed the heater within close proximity of a combustible heat source, or flammable materials. Installation contractors and maintenance technicians might be legally at fault if they alter the way the relief valve or safety valve operates.
- Improper Maintenance – As water heater tanks age, the units become susceptible to leaks and corrosion. When not properly maintained by a licensed technician, leaks, rust and corrosion can quickly develop, flooding the home or allowing the tank to build up excessive amounts of pressure, leading to a catastrophic blast. Without safety devices and proper controls, the hot water heater is susceptible to catastrophic events causing substantial damage, severe injuries and/or death.
Preventing a Hot Water Heater Explosion
Explosions and fires are preventable through proper maintenance of the water heater tank. Landlords, property managers, commercial structure owners, and homeowners must maintain the safety of the hot water tank. Annual inspections performed by licensed professionals can usually detect the early warning signs if the hot water tank is producing hotter than usual water, or steam venting from the hot water faucet. An inspector can also look for signs of corrosion, leaks and further damage.
In addition, setting the hot water tank at a lower temperature, usually 125 degrees Fahrenheit, can minimize water heater damage, and help the household avoid scalding burns. It is essential to have the T&P (temperature and pressure) valve inspected annually. Inspections will minimize the potential of the hot water tank becoming an unexpected bomb when the pressure builds to unacceptable levels.
Legal Remedies Available To Those Injured Due To An Exploding Hot Water Heater
Victims of a hot water heater explosion suffering property damage, severe injuries or wrongful death should seek legal representation to obtain financial compensation. In fact, Rosenfeld personal injury lawyers specialize in explosion and fire cases, and fight for the rights of their clients.
Our Chicago accident attorneys can file an insurance claim or lawsuit to obtain adequate recompense for injuries and property damage along with pain and suffering as a direct result of a water tank explosion or fire. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC at (888) 424-5757 to discuss the merits of a legal claim against all responsible parties that manufactured, installed or improperly maintained a hot water tank, which caused a fire or explosion.