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I was told it is caused when an electric hot water tank is drained, but the power to the element has not been disconnected. The electricity reacts with the air (not sure if its air or carbon dioxide at this point) and becomes hydrogen gas.
West Trail Mechanical Ltd
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You can't prevent it, the severity depends on your water. Hydrogen gas can be produce with the system in use, ever notice bursts of "air" when you run a tap?
Quote "Your home's water chemistry may be such that it can react aggressively with metals, such as the anode in the water heater. This chemical reaction can create hydrogen gas. Only in extremely rare instances does this hydrogen gas pose a danger. It would take many months of the water heater being unused before the gas built up enough to reach dangerous levels. Other gases, such as oxygen, may occur naturally and be present in the water. When water is heated in a closed tank, its pressure increases. As the pressure increases the amount of gas that the water can hold in solution increases. When the hot-water faucet is opened, the water pressure decreases and the gas held in solution is liberated and forced out in spurts."
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