The explosion not only destroyed the aquarium but also literally blew the roof off the shed and moved the adjacent house wall 4 inches. The scorching temperature from the blaze caused the gas to expand within the CO2 tank, increasing its internal pressure until it blew. Modern tanks have safety relief valves to prevent tanks from exploding, but the extreme and sudden increase in temperature from the fire may have resulted in catastrophic failure.
Granted, we don’t know if the CO2 tank was part of the aquarium system (used for planted aquariums or calcium reactors). Also, the circumstance in which the tank exploded is extreme to say the least, so it’s not our intention to alarm anyone who is using CO2 for their aquariums. CO2 tanks are proven safe when operated within specifications.
Still, it’s a good opportunity to remind aquarists to always treat their CO2 tanks with safety in mind.
- Do not to overfill your tank.
- Do not store tanks where they may experience extreme or rapid temperature changes.
- It’s advisable to hydrostaticly test (AKA “hydrotest”) your CO2 tank every five years to make sure it can safely hold its rated pressure. Some businesses that may offer this testing service are brewery equipment shops, dive shops, welding shops, and paintball shops.
- When transporting CO2 tanks, make sure to 1) not keep it in your car for extended periods of time, particularly during hot summer days and 2) always transport a full CO2 tank in your trunk in case the relief valve discharges. The CO2 within a full tank is enough to quickly asphyxiate you should it empty in the passenger compartment. If nothing else, it would scare the bejeezus out of you!
- If you plan to keep the CO2 tank in a bedroom, we advise choosing a smaller tank. Sure, you’ll have to refill it more often, but if the relief valve/burst disk of a full, large tank ruptures while you’re sleeping, you may never wake up!
This story was originally reported by KOIN.