Water Heater and Fires and Explosions in East Tennessee

Plumber repairing an hot-water heater

For property owners, it’s important to have your water heater regularly inspected and serviced. Both gas-powered and electric-powered water heaters could explode if defective or poorly maintained. A water heater explosion can cause extensive property damage, severe injuries, and even death in the most tragic cases.  Similarly, a gas water heater fire can also cause serious injury.

If a water heater has caused a fire or exploded and has injured you, you could be owed compensation for the resulting medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The skilled injury attorneys at The Terry Law Firm can help you seek compensation from the responsible party. A successful injury claim could help pay your bills, repair or replace damaged property, and move on with your life. 

We’ve helped our clients collect tens of millions of dollars after an injury or accident, and we are regulary recognized by Best Lawyers. Get your free initial consultation today by calling us or visiting our contact page.

Causes of Water Heater Explosions and Fires

There are two kinds of water heaters: Gas-powered and electric-powered heaters. Gas-powered water heaters use propane or natural gas ignited by a pilot light to heat water. In contrast, electric-powered heaters require 220 volts (double the voltage in a typical household outlet) to heat the water to the right temperature.

As long as all the components that make up a gas-powered or electric water heater are working correctly, it’s unlikely that it will ever explode. However, if the heater malfunctions, the results could be disastrous. 

Some of the most common causes of water heater explosions include:

  • A short in the electrical system that powers electric water heaters
  • An interruption in the flow of natural gas or propane for gas-powered heaters
  • Excessive pressure in the water heater due to a broken or corroded pressure release valve
  • Combustible or explosive materials placed too close to a water heater and catching on fire
  • Water leaks, especially if the leaks cause parts within the water heater to rust or corrode
  • Setting the thermostat on the water heater too high or too low
  • Improper installation or service of the water heater
  • A gas leak from the water heater or gas lines to the water heater
  • A defective water heater that causes a gas to escape.

How to Prevent Your Water Heater from Exploding

Regular maintenance and inspections will go a long way toward preventing an explosion. With proper maintenance, water heaters can last for a decade or more. Here are a few other essential tips to keep your water heater from exploding:

  • Inspect your water heater for leaks, corrosion, and any other problems once a year. If you do not feel confident enough to do this inspection yourself, hire a licensed plumber.
  • Keep your water temperature at the manufacturer’s recommended setting (usually around 125 degrees). Setting the water temperature too high can raise the pressure inside your water heater, potentially causing it to explode.
  • Pay special attention to the pressure-relief valve. Mineral deposits can build up in the valve over time, causing it to stick shut or not fully close after it’s been opened. If you notice that the valve isn’t working correctly, call someone to repair your water heater right away.
  • If you move into an older house, be sure to have someone look at the water heater to ensure it’s been adequately maintained and doesn’t endanger you or your family.

Types of Water Heater Explosion Injuries

If you haven’t seen the aftermath of a water heater explosion, take a look at this video from the TV show Mythbusters. The blast demolished the structure that had housed the water heater – and the same thing could happen to your home if your water heater malfunctions and explodes. 

Some common water heater explosion injuries include:

  • Scalding from hot water
  • Burn injuries including second and third-degree burns
  • Head injuries/traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations and scarring
  • Nerve damage
  • Eye damage, including loss of vision

Liability for a Water Heater Explosion Injury

If your water heater explodes, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, injuries to others in your household, and any damage done to your home and other personal property. To do so, you must prove that another party’s negligence caused the explosion. 

Some of the potentially liable parties for a water heater explosion include:

  • The manufacturer – Water heaters are complex appliances with multiple moving parts that need to work in conjunction with each other. If the explosion was due to a manufacturing or design defect, the manufacturer could be held liable for damages.
  • The contractor who installed the water heater – If a water heater isn’t installed correctly, pressure can build up inside the appliance and cause an explosion. Alternatively, an improperly installed water heater can also lead to an electrical short or a problem with the flow of gas into the heater, either of which can also cause an explosion.
  • The contractor who inspected or serviced the water heater – Even if the water heater was made and installed properly, it needs to be inspected and serviced annually to ensure everything is in working order. If the contractor failed to notice a broken part or something else wrong with the water heater before an explosion, they could be held liable for damages.
  • Landlords who fail to maintain or inspect – If you live in an apartment or other property that you do not own, it’s up to your landlord to make sure your water heater isn’t a danger to you. Landlords can be held liable if they fail to take appropriate steps to protect their tenants or guests from harm. 

Contact a Water Heater Explosion Lawyer Today 

A water heater explosion could cause severe or potentially fatal injuries. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights. An experienced injury attorney can help you pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property, and other losses you’ve suffered due to the explosion. 

Our firm has helped East Tennessee residents who’ve been injured in accidents since 1960. We’re ready to put our experience to work for you. Get started on your injury claim today by calling us or visiting our contact page to schedule a free initial consultation.

Personal Injury

What is the Statute of Limitations in Tennessee for Personal Injury Claims?

Tennessee is very unique in that the statute of limitations in Tennessee is much shorter than in other states. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Tennessee is generally one (1) year. There are exceptions to the one (1) year statute of limitations. 

In Tennessee, one exception to the statute of limitations is the discovery rule. The statute of limitations in Tennessee does not start to run until a person knows or should have known about an injury. 

There is currently a provision in the Tennessee Code regarding extending the statute of limitations where persons have criminal charges brought against them and they caused or contributed to an injury. In these cases, it is possible that the statute of limitations may be extended to two (2) years. At this stage, there has been no ruling from the Tennessee Supreme Court on exactly how this statute should be interpreted; therefore, we recommend filing cases within one (1) year.

The statute of limitations in property damage cases in Tennessee is three (3) years and the statute of limitations for a breach of contract in Tennessee is six (6) years. It is important to note that breach of implied warranty of merchantability, which are theories that are often used in product liability cases, carries a six (6) statute of limitations.

What is a Contingency Fee?

At The Terry Law Firm, clients are welcome to come to our Morristown office, our Sevierville office, or our Greeneville office for a free consultation. This is true for virtually any type of case. 

In personal injury cases, in particular, The Terry Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis which means that The Terry Law Firm does not receive any compensation, nor are you required to pay anything, unless we are successful on your behalf. 

Our general fee in personal injury cases (like most firms) is one-third (1/3). The Terry Law Firm advances all costs and expenses in the case until the matter is resolved. If we are not successful for a client in a personal injury case, then they are not required to pay anything. 

Can The Terry Law Firm Help If I Was in an Accident in Another State?

The Terry Law Firm regularly handles cases for clients who have been involved in out-of-state accidents. We have handled cases as far west as West Texas and South Dakota. We have had cases in eastern North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida. It is a regular part of The Terry Law Firm’s business to handle cases outside of Tennessee.

Handling a case outside of Tennessee does not cost the client any more than it would if we were handling a case in Tennessee. In fact, the client will likely notice very little difference in a case handled outside of the state versus one handled in the State of Tennessee.