Heater exploded - whats inside?
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:29 PM   #1
BigTom
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Heater exploded - whats inside?


Hi all,

Just had one of my plastic 'safety' nano heaters explode with a bang. Looks like the top popped off, and there's now a lot of white powdery stuff all over the tank and a pretty acrid stench.

Fish are out and in a bucket and sseem OK for now, but I'd quite like to know what is now in the tank and how much of a detox is going to be required.

Heater -


White stuff-


Plants and substrate (aquasoil) have been rinsing directly under the shower for ages, I'm tempted to reuse the soil but if anyone thinks there's likely to be anything seriously nasty form the heater then I'll just bin it.
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:36 PM   #2
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well I have no idea whats inside the heater but I would just give the tank a good clean and I would get some more substrate just to be on the safe side. this also has a good side to it though, you can rescape you tank and make it even more nicer
any way good luck
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:54 AM   #3
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Well I hope you have a water softener and a R/O shower or on a well. More than likely you just killed of a large number of your bacteria colonies due to city water additives. I can't comment on re-usage though. I haven't encountered this situation before but I am sure someone else can chime in for an answer.
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
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Well I hope you have a water softener and a R/O shower or on a well. More than likely you just killed of a large number of your bacteria colonies due to city water additives. I can't comment on re-usage though. I haven't encountered this situation before but I am sure someone else can chime in for an answer.
Thanks for that pearl of wisdom. For your information I have four other mature filters running from which to donate media, plus enough plant biomass to effectively filter a much greater bioload than occupies the tank even without a filter running at all.

Anyway, I ran water through the substrate for a couple of hours yesterday, set the tank up again last night and reintroduced the livestock this morning. All well so far, will just have to keep an eye on it.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:45 PM   #5
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Any idea what caused the pop?
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:32 PM   #6
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I'm not 100% sure but the powder was probably desiccant to keep humidity inside the heater low
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:21 PM   #7
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Any idea what caused the pop?
Nope. They're cheapie heaters and I've had them fail before (just stop turning on), but never pop.

Heard back form the retailer -

"They do not contain anything particularly toxic, simply a Printed Circuit
board with a solid state thermostat on it, a heating element, some Silicone
rubber and then the whole lot is encased in epoxy resin."

Nothing too scary there, hopefully it'll be fine.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
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For your information I have four other mature filters running from which to donate media, plus enough plant biomass to effectively filter a much greater bioload than occupies the tank even without a filter running at all.
....and everyone on this site knew that but me right. Aww silly me, my bad. I don't know your level of fish keeping so I was just pointing the jeopardy out. There are some inexperienced people on here that would immediately run to tap water for a good rinsing in a case like that.

Anyways, I hope your livestock is okay.
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flight50 View Post
....and everyone on this site knew that but me right. Aww silly me, my bad. I don't know your level of fish keeping so I was just pointing the jeopardy out. There are some inexperienced people on here that would immediately run to tap water for a good rinsing in a case like that.

Anyways, I hope your livestock is okay.
No worries, I was a bit snappy myself
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTom View Post
Nope. They're cheapie heaters and I've had them fail before (just stop turning on), but never pop.

Heard back form the retailer -

"They do not contain anything particularly toxic, simply a Printed Circuit
board with a solid state thermostat on it, a heating element, some Silicone
rubber and then the whole lot is encased in epoxy resin."

Nothing too scary there, hopefully it'll be fine.
I hope you learn from your mistake. Common rookie mistake. Use quality heaters with heater controllers.
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:04 PM   #11
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I hope you learn from your mistake. Common rookie mistake. Use quality heaters with heater controllers.
Wow, the level of condescension on this forum is hilarious at times. Thanks for your wonderful input.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTom View Post

"They do not contain anything particularly toxic, simply a Printed Circuit
board with a solid state thermostat on it, a heating element, some Silicone
rubber and then the whole lot is encased in epoxy resin."
None of that would explain the white powder you saw or the odor. I would have done the same as you. I wonder what they didn't tell you. If it were me I wouldn't bother reusing the substrate if it's a nano. The cost is minimal versus the toxicity problems.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:14 PM   #13
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Aquasoil is expensive, and I am a poor student, so if it were me, i would rinse until the white stuff and stench is clear, then re-use...

I don't think there would be anything too devastating contained in the heater, but you will be taking your chances. If you aren't willing to do that, then you will have to get more substrate.

Good luck, I haven't heard of this happening before. Can you describe the smell better?
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:16 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Fuze View Post
Aquasoil is expensive, and I am a poor student, so if it were me, i would rinse until the white stuff and stench is clear, then re-use...

I don't think there would be anything too devastating contained in the heater, but you will be taking your chances. If you aren't willing to do that, then you will have to get more substrate.

Good luck, I haven't heard of this happening before. Can you describe the smell better?
The smell was the same as you get with any fried circuitry. Tanks been back up a couple of days now and fish, shrimp and snails seem OK, so nothing immediately lethal at any rate. I think it'll be fine.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
None of that would explain the white powder you saw or the odor. I would have done the same as you. I wonder what they didn't tell you. If it were me I wouldn't bother reusing the substrate if it's a nano. The cost is minimal versus the toxicity problems.
This. There's a key ingredient missing in the list provided: The white filler. It's probably pretty inert. Maybe a silica based transfer and isolation agent to keep the heater from overheating the immediate area around the heater.

The stench could have been the board or element burning up.

I wish I had the heater remains in hand, I would do a very thorough post mortem exam. That is not just a major failure of the heater, but a huge safety risk to livestock, people, and property. Think fire hazard.
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