Boiler Explosions – Is Your Boiler A Ticking Time Bomb?
Household boiler explosions are not commonplace but unfortunately they do happen and can cause serious harm to those caught in the immediate vicinity. Just earlier this month a suspected boiler explosion destroyed a family home in Staffordshire inflicting multiple fatalities to the four occupants inside. Back in 2015 two sisters were having a coffee in the front room when the central heating boiler exploded sending shards of brick and mortar in all directions. Although one of the sisters later recovered from minor force trauma injuries, a fireman later stated that she would have been cut in half if it wasn’t for the thick coffee table shielding the lower half of her body. As a result of the explosion, her property also suffered significant structural damage.
Terrible incidents like this serve as a reminder that you need to be vigilant when it comes to boiler health, maintenance and selecting only the most qualified gas engineers to carry out work on your unit. In the majority of cases, boilers are well equipped with a number of safety features that can prevent the occurrence of serious problems but boiler explosions can be caused by a number of different reasons.
Boilers Cope With A Huge Amount Of Pressure
In basic terms, boilers use fuel to heat water which is then circulated to different locations. When water heats up it expands and turns into steam which in an enclosed space can create a tremendous amount of pressure. Boilers therefore need to be able to cope with this pressure safely and must be manufactured to extremely high standards with airtight joins and quality hardware.
Is Your Safety Valve Working?
The safety valve is a component used to moderate pressure within a boiler. Faulty manufacturing or defective units can see sub-par valve units that can fail to regulate pressure build-up which can result in an explosion. Of course, knowing whether your valve unit is functioning correctly is not easy if you are not a professional domestic gas engineer. This is one of many reasons why it is so important to contract an annual boiler servicing package from a gas safe registered engineer.
Explosions In Confined Spaces
In the average domestic setting, most boiler systems are stowed away in cupboards or closeted compartments so they are out of sight but still accessible. When boilers explode in this type of small space they project a huge amount of outward force as the explosive energy meets compartmental resistance. This results in brickwork, boiling water, fragments of wall, and door material being splintered outwards at high speeds causing serious injury to those in the vicinity.
Do You Have A Decommissioned Back Boiler?
In recent years a large number of boiler explosions incidents in the UK have been caused by decommissioned back boilers. This particular type of boiler is fitted at the rear of an open fireplace and absorbs the fire’s heat into a standard heat exchanger where water is heated and circulated throughout the property. When back boilers are decommissioned the water feed at the top is sealed off or ‘capped’ allowing no ventilation or circulation. The danger comes when residual moisture remains inside the chamber whilst the stove or open fire is used. A combination of the heat, moisture and lack of ventilation can result in colossal levels of steam pressure build-up against the boiler casing thus causing an explosion. All properly decommissioned back boilers must be fitted with a safety valve to regulate pressure build up. If you are concerned about the safe decommissioning of your back boiler be sure to contact a reputable boiler servicing company immediately.
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Laurence is a content writer and marketing manager for Taps On Plumbing. He helps publish regular content and insights for customers and industry personnel.