Water heaters definitely provide a great commodity for life at home, but these appliances also have a nasty reputation, especially the older models. If something malfunctions with the unit, too much pressure inside the tank can cause the tank to explode. The water heater has come a long way from what it once was, and now there are all kinds of valves and safety features present that would likely prevent you from seeing the thing explode. However, water heaters can still burst, and if you have an older unit, the possibility of this happening is even greater. Here's what you need to do if your water heater does burst and you are left waiting for an emergency plumber to arrive.
Shut Off the Power Supply
A water heater may be connected to either gas or electrical lines for power, so the first plan of action if your water heater bursts is to eliminate this power supply, but only if you can do so safely. The heating element that would normally be inside of the water heater may actually be exposed. Don't touch it or anything on your hot water heater. Instead, shut off the main breaker to the unit or turn of the gas line supply valve.
Turn Off the Water Supply
Once you have cut power to the water heater, shut off the cold water supply that normally feeds the tank and keeps it filled. As long as this water supply is turned on, the flooding inside the house will just get worse. Even though the appliance has no power, water will still be feeding into the tank, and all that water will simply spill out onto the floor. Look for the shut-off valve on the line leading to your water heater and turn the valve off completely. If there is no shut-off valve here, which is common in older homes, you will have to shut off the main water valve to the house.
While you are waiting for your plumber in shining armor to arrive, you will want to focus on getting as much of the spilled water out of your home as possible. Because a water heater houses so many gallons of water, when one bursts, you can have what looks like an interior flood happening inside of your house. Grab a mop and bucket, heavy cotton towels, a squeegee—whatever you have on hand to soak up all the water on the floor as much as possible.