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I considered posting this in the Live Steam forum, but figured it really is of use to a wider audience!

I remember an incident when I was a kid still in grade school. My brother and I were getting ready for school and we complained to Mom that the hot water was "too hot". She scolded us that we were just complaining and told us that it was important to use hot water when washing our hands. She then went to wash her hands in the kitchen and got only steam from the faucet. She then tried the bathroom faucet and got only steam and could not get it shut off! She then shoo'd David and I off to school (a bit early, as I remember it).

She told this story many years later, saying that she then called the gas company, and they told her to leave the house and not go back in until they got there. She said that there was steam all through the house and water was condensing on the walls and running down them. She said the Gas company came "right away" and one worker went to the basement and shut off the gas and then came back out and they all sat around for a long time to let the water heater cool down. They told her that the water heater could have exploded up through the roof and killed her. They also said it was a good thing that she was unable to shut off the water at the faucet and that was likely what saved the house AND her life!

I know we then got a new water heater. I remember it being installed and the safety valve being tested.


I have told this story a few times and usually get a response that it could not happen; it is just a myth.


Well. Watch this video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7DpfdQTHvY

It is an episode from the "MythBusters" TV show. I really believe the Myth Busters thought it would be proved a myth... WOW!

I was surprised at what the they found happened to a water heater that is damaged such that the safety valve is broken and the heat and pressure sensor fails to shut off the heat mechanism. That is a "double-failure" and probably a rare occurrence, but I know it happened to our water heater in the mid 1950's.
 

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Getting our home built so maybe we can start playing with trains again!
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Every three months I always would go to the hot water heater and open the pressure relief valve just to see if it would work. This would allow built up calcium deposits to be forced out the valve and prevent it from becoming stuck. It's also a good idea to drp all the water out of the tank atleast once a year to drain the sediment that collects at the bottom of the tank. This is one of the causes for the calcium build up as well as it helps lengthen the life of the water heater.

Even though there are safety features to prevent such things from hapening they still do. We have heard of 5 such occurances over the last few years.

We now have a Rinnai water heater and I'm happy to say this is no longer an issue for us.
 

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That same show reminded of something my great aunt told us several years ago. Apparently the place she worked for at the time had a hot water heater in the room on the other side of the wall from her desk. They had it mounted on it's side. When she came in for work after the weekend she found that the water heater had exploded and gone through the wall right under her desk. Her chair was in splinters at the other side of the office. She felt very lucky. She had pictures.
 

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Cool clip, thanks for sharing.
Gives a guy a little more insight when you read in some old book about a locomotive or donkey boiler explosion.
Guess that's why boilers have to be inspected and certified. It's a wonder that it's not required for hot water heaters too.
Later
Rick Marty
 
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