Imploding hot water heater?

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I've got some idiot at work telling me that his hot water heater imploded.  
I'm telling him that is impossible, but I want to make sure I'm not the
idiot.  Technically, I guess anything is possible, but being on city water,
wouldn't every fire hydrant in the neighborhood have to be running at the
same time to cause enough of a vacuum for implosion on a vessel that is
supposed to be able to withstand 300PSI of pressure?  And that would be
only after everything else between the main and the HWH survived the vacuum
first.

Anyone ever heard of this happening?

I'm 99% sure that it exploded on him, but he was lucky.  From what he told
me, his limit switch has failed, and his T&P is 15 years old (installed
with the HWH).

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to look at it yet myself, so there is a lot
of specualtion here, but I just want to know if anyone ever heard of a HWH
imploding.

Eric

 

Re: Imploding hot water heater?


Eric G. wrote:
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well ....
if the vessel were full of steam, and it were suddenly cooled, the steam
would condense with a large change of volume and possibly create enough
vacuum to implode the vessel ...

this used to be a standard physics experiment at school - get a large screw
top can - remove the lid and boil a small volume of water in the can.  when
it is boiling nicely put the lid on a run the can under cold water ... it
folds like a house of cards!   this,
http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000043 is the closest I
can find on the interweb ...

http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000043



Re: Imploding hot water heater?


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All the scientific hypothesizing bullshit aside....
Bullshit! :>)
If his limit switch fails then his thermostat also had to fail, his T&P had
to fail, and he has to have a check valve on his incoming domestic supply.
And what does those conditions lead to?
Excessive pressure. Not vacuum.
He's pullin' your chain.



Bob Wheatley



Re: Imploding hot water heater?


Bob Wheatley wrote:
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IANAP ... but IAAS

I feel I have to support the hypothetical scientific viewpoint here ...

Is there not a scenario where the cold water feed fails for some other
disconnected reason (dodgy check valve perhaps?) - the boiler continues to
heat the little water there is, filling the boiler with steam and hot water
vapour - the cold water feed is then reinstated for some other disconnected
reason, resulting in rapid cooling of the boiler vessel - the pressure
relief valve would snap shut and a pressure drop would be seen.  I couldn't
comment on whether this would then be sufficient to collapse the boiler
vessel but I have done the can experiment and can vouch for the force of
atmospheric pressure!

Most likely is that your mate is 'confused' ...

What's the US plumbing view on Evolution vs Creationism?  Are those fossils
really only 7000 years old or are they pulling our chain????



Re: Imploding hot water heater?


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Okay, but...
This isn't a controlled experiment. It's an alleged incident occurring in
real world conditions on a real world plumbing system.
The conditions you describe DO NOT exist without purposely designing an
unsafe plumbing system. Which of course is the direct opposite intent of
modern systems. (excluding Europe of course!)  :>)


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While I believe plumbing has evolved, each system is most definitely
created.:>)


Bob Wheatley



Re: Imploding hot water heater?



I fully agree with Bob here, the guys pulling your chain. Unless you
can explain how 14.7lbs of external pressure could crush a water
heater, and that would be in a perfect vacuum at sea level.

kenny b


Re: Imploding hot water heater?


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aha - you've seen British plumbing!  Spanish is worse though ... and dont
get me started on the French - sacre bleu!

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Re: Imploding hot water heater?



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Agreed Bob, but I had to ask.  Incidentally he DOES NOT have a check
valve on his service, which just may be what saved his ass.

Thanks for your input.

Eric

Re: Imploding hot water heater?


Finally got to look last night.  It exploded right along the seam of the
tank.  Don't know where he pulled the implosion thing from, but I'm pretty
sure it was outta his ass.

This was probably one of the worst looking piece of shit tanks I have ever
seen.  I really couldn't believe he made it this long without something
else going on, but then he told me that he had been manually running the
tank for the last 2 years or so, getting the water up to about 180F and
then shutting it off.  So I guess the thermostat and limit switch have been
bad for quite some time.  He also told me that the T&P blew on him about 6
months ago.

I took the time to show him the exploding HWH heater video that I found on
Youtube, and I don't think he'll be quite as stupid in the future.

And the guy is a friggin mechanic for God sake.  Not like the average
homeowner.

Eric

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