Unless you’re a Mythbuster, I don’t think you commonly wake up in the morning thinking that you will see an exploding waterheater, especially your own. In deference to reality, I supposed it was more properly an “exploded” waterheater, but the shock (and subsequent mess of puddle) is no less real. The picture here on the right is only part of the mess left on the floor (this is only about the fifth or sixth flood in our basement). I think if the drain “cover” was flush, much less area would have been flooded — something to think about for the future.
I was just preparing to go to bed last night when I returned to my home office to check on a few of my battery-powered devices that were charging. On my way back to the kitchen for the last time, I heard a somewhat strange noise from the basement that I could almost, but not quite, dismiss as fan noise from the servers kept down there. I decided to investigate and as I walked downstairs it became increasingly clear that the noise was not from computer fans; but rather the sound of quickly running water. I could almost at that point dismiss the sound again as the sound of water rushing in pipes to fill a toilet, but I pressed on thinking it was just wrong: too loud or too constant.
I must admit that I saw the flood first, but a very close second was the very non-normal state of the waterheater itself. I even found this a little bit scary as I was at first unsure that it was finished exploding. On the one hand, I can admit that it obviously wasn’t a “devastating” explosion that leveled some portion of the basement: it was simply a complete failure of the hot water heater’s ability to contain water that included compromising it’s casing.
It’s at this point that I quickly a) shut off the water supply and b) shut off the gas supply and then c) disconnect the electric supply. I was somewhat worried about the electtric supply to be honest, too. The water was emerging from every new oraface — from the top of the tank; from the side of the take that you see here; and from somewhere around the bottom of the tank. The heater was not “on” that I could tell, but I still felt that preventing it from trying to be on again was a “good thing™.”
I’m somewhat curious what actually happened that the water heater was so completely compromised. This last image is a damage detail of the top of the tank. It seems to indicate some forces at work that were somewhat violent. This is less violent than the aforementioned mythbuster’s myth about a hot water tank exploding like a rocket through the house but more violent than simply failing due to rust. The tank was only 10 years old.
In-the-end it turned out good that it was a rental. Both our waterheater and our air conditioner are rentals and both have cost the rental company quite a bit more than we have probably paid. This is the 4th repair for the waterheater (previously the flame sensor has been replaced twice and the emergency pressure valve once) and the air conditioner had a design fault that required the condenser to be replaced. I’m not entirely a fan of the “rental” method of repair cost mitigation, but in this specific case the shoddy workmanship of the given items as worked in our favour.
The rental company (GreenSource … which has apparently been bought? by Direct Energy) send over repairmen this morning that managed to get all the necessary permission to replace the unit before I got home today. I’m looking forward to a shower rather than a sponge bath. No more surprises for awhile, OK?