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How Can I Tell If My Water Heater Has a Corrosion Problem?

Water heaters come equipped with multiple features to stave off corrosion (aka. rust). However, as the equipment ages, a corrosion problem can start developing. Even if the issue is small, it’s something you should solve as quickly as possible to prevent extensive damage. 

What Is Corrosion?

Corrosion is the chemical reaction that occurs between metal, water, and oxygen. It results in a corrosion product, such as rust.

2 Signs That Your Water Heater Has a Corrosion Problem

If you notice these “red” flags, contact a plumber to inspect your water heater for corrosion issues.

  • Your hot water has red, orange, or brown discoloration. The water looks this way because the rust in your water heater is breaking off into your hot water supply and polluting it.

  • Your water heater is leaking. When metal corrodes (or rusts), it gets brittle. Similarly, if your water heater develops corrosion, its metal parts will be much weaker and more susceptible to developing leaks. If corrosion has weakened your water heater so much that it has started to crack and leak, you will need to replace the entire unit.

Why Do Water Heaters Corrode?

If your tank water heater has a corrosion issue, one of these problems is typically the reason.

  • The sacrificial anode rod needs to be replaced. Usually, minerals and gases in your water would cause the tank walls to corrode fast. The sacrificial anode rod is made of a metal that attracts those minerals and gases, so instead of the tank walls corroding, the rod does instead. Sometimes the rod can wear out after several years, especially if you own a water softener.

  • The temperature-pressure release valve isn’t working correctly. This valve’s primary purpose is to release water and decrease the pressure inside your water heater tank. This keeps your water heater from exploding. The valve also prevents outside air from getting inside your tank. If the valve isn’t working correctly, oxygen could be entering your tank and causing corrosion.

  • The water heater’s glass lining has worn out. A layer of glass protects your tank water heater’s interior. As the tank ages, that layer can develop cracks, allowing corrosion to occur.

Unfortunately, any corrosion that occurs in your water heater cannot be reversed. In many cases, you can stop and prevent a corrosion issue by replacing your water heater’s sacrificial anode rod. However, if the corrosion has caused the tank to start leaking, you will need to replace your water heater to avoid substantial leaks in the future.

Are you having trouble with your water heater? At JSP Home Services, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with honest, expert water heater services: (845) 209-1700 .


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