My heater just emitted smoke?

Ouse

More bad news...

I was just doing my 50% weekly water change for my 33 gallon. I could smell smoke in my room, just like the smell I detected during the water change two weeks ago. I discovered the smell was coming from my heater, so I decided to pick the heater up to inspect it for damage. When I touched the heater, a simmering noise was emitted followed by smoke, so I decided to take it out of the tank for the time being just to be safe. My room now feels somewhat warmer than before I touched the heater. I’m closely monitoring the temperature while the tank has no heater.

There’s bubbles in the upper part of the heater, and there’s always been. I can’t tell if I see rust or a brownish reflection of light against the metal in the lower part (not possible to photograph it).
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I think the heater has failed, although I’ve never heard about heaters smoking before. Is this something I should be worried about? Is it really safe to continue using this heater?

Edit: the heater smoked BEFORE I added water back in.
 

carsonsgjs

Do you turn your heater off when you do a water change? I’ve forgotten in the past and ended up with a bit of steam and a burning smell similar to what you may have experienced here.

To be honest, I’d have probably stopped using the heater the moment I noticed water/condensation inside it so it may be best to replace to be on the safe side.
 

Ouse

Do you turn your heater off when you do a water change? I’ve forgotten in the past and ended up with a bit of steam and a burning smell similar to what you may have experienced here.
I don’t turn the heater off during water changes, however this has never occurred as a result before. I’ve heard things about it happening this way, though.

There is a little smudge of plastic decoration that is binded to the heater. I discovered it a couple weeks ago and then moved the decoration it originated from away from the heater. Not sure if that plays a part or not.
To be honest, I’d have probably stopped using the heater the moment I noticed water/condensation inside it so it may be best to replace to be on the safe side.
Yeah... let’s see if I can get my hands on a new one.

Fish tanks drive me insane!
 

FishDin

Replace it. Don't even think twice. There is too much at risk. Heaters are cheap.

Always unplug the heater when doing a water change even if you have one that is designed to shut itself off.
 

Ouse

I have temporarily added a spare 50 watt heater I had lying around while I search for a new 150/200 watt heater.
Heaters are cheap.
Not around here they’re not. The 50 watt heater costed around £30. :eek:
Always unplug the heater when doing a water change even if you have one that is designed to shut itself off.
Got it.
 

Dunk2

I don’t turn the heater off during water changes, however this has never occurred as a result before. I’ve heard things about it happening this way, though.
If the water is getting below the minimum water line on the heater (most/all heaters have them?) during water changes, you really should turn it off.
 

BigManAquatics

Had this happen once. Wife forgot to unplug heater and took morr water out on a water change than usual, exposing it to air for a few minutes, then it started smoking. It worked fine for a couple weeks after though, which is when we replaced it. Wouldn't reccomend the last part. Now i have extra heaters on hand for all my tanks.
 

FishDin

Not around here they’re not. The 50 watt heater costed around £30. :eek:
:) I knew someone would reply to that comment.

I guess my point was it's cheap (and less sad) relative to having to replace all of your fish and still have to buy a new heater. Also, knowing I had a defective heater, but keeping iit n use would cause me stress.
 

Ouse

Ok, tomorrow hopefully I can find a new 150-200 watt heater. My LFS has some in stock. I’m also hoping the temporary 50 watt (and, if needed, occasional doses of warm water) can sustain this tank until then. The original 200 watt heater has been out for over seven hours now, and the temperature is about 24°C, which is good.

Fingers crossed I don’t wake up to a total disaster.
 

BradleyH2O

Most heater instruction manuals, will tell you to turn it off when water changing.

I leave mine on, but I lower the heater down to a level that will be below the waterline during my water change process. Then I use a meat thermometer to get the tap water up to the desired temp before filling buckets and putting it back in the tank
 

TClare

I always unplug mine (and occasionally forget to plug them back in).
 

StarGirl

I always unplug mine (and occasionally forget to plug them back in).
Agree. Just did this the last water change. :( My water was down to 72....DOH!
 

Ouse

The new 200 watt heater is in. Everybody survived the night.
 

Stripedbass

Agree. Just did this the last water change. :( My water was down to 72....DOH!
Might get some breeding activity at that rate! I left mine off over a 24hr period like a dummy. Now I'm always paranoid about checking it even when I haven't done a water change in days.
 

BlockHead1981

Replace it. I have my heater and filter on a plug with a switch that plugs into power strip. I flip the switch and I am all set. I plug the tank light separately on the same power strip itself. This way I have lights while I do my water changes and I don't mess up my timer.
 

RayClem

Heaters are potentially dangerous: to you, to your fish, and as a potential source of fire that could destroy your entire home. The should never be treated lightly,

1. All electrical devices used around water should be plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. THE GFCI is a device that compares the current flow in the hot wire to the current flow in the neutral wire. If there is an inbalance, the GFCI will disconnect power to the circuit within a fraction of a second. That can prevent you and your fish from electrocution and avoid fire.

There are three types of GFCI devices. One is a breaker installed in the main electrical panel. That requires the services of a trained electrician. The second is a GFCI outlet that replaces an existing receptacle in the wall. If you own the home and have the necessary skills, you may be able to do this yourself. However, an improperly installed outlet might not protect you and might introduce even more problems. The third type of GFCI device is a GFCI plug that plugs into the wall outlet. Other devices then plug into it. If you live in an apartment or lack electrical skills, this is your best option.

2. Submersible heaters should never be powered unless they are completely covered by water. If you are doing a 50% water change without turning off the power, the heater can overheat. Always unplug the heater before doing a water change and don't forget to reconnect the power after the tank has been filled.


3. When doing water changes, inspect your heater for signs of wear or damage. If you can see evidence of condensation inside, that means that the seals are leaking and the heater should be replaced. Any heater that looks or smells unusual should be replaced as it is evidence of overheating.

4.Your heater has been damaged. Do not attempt to reuse the heater. Please cut the plug off your old heater so it cannot be plugged in, Do not cut the cord off close to the heater as someone might plug the cord in and get shocked.

Heaters are not expensive. If you have any question whether it is safe to use, replace it immediately. It is best too keep a spare heater on hand so you are not tempted to use one that might be unsafe. It is better to toss out a good heater than to use a defective one.
 

Ouse

Guys, I said earlier that I replaced the old heater with a new one. The old heater is in the bin. ;)
The new 200 watt heater is in. Everybody survived the night.
 

RayClem

Guys, I said earlier that I replaced the old heater with a new one. The old heater is in the bin. ;)
But did you remove the plug so no one can retrieve it from the bin and plug it in? Safety first and last.
 

Ouse

But did you remove the plug so no one can retrieve it from the bin and plug it in? Safety first and last.
My mum simply threw it away. I don’t think it’s in the house anymore.
 

RayClem

My mum simply threw it away. I don’t think it’s in the house anymore.

Next time, who her how responsible you are by removing the plug. There WILL be a next time, sooner of later. Heaters do not last forever.
 

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