Water heaters tend to last about 10-15 years. If you notice rust in the water heater, it means it’s closer to the end of its lifespan.
There are various types of water heater corrosion (a.k.a. rust). Depending on the location and prevalence of the corrosion, it could mean that your water heater needs to be replaced.
So in this article, you will learn how to tell if your water heater has rust, what it means, and what to do about it — whether that means having it cleaned, repaired or replaced.
Read More: What's the Average Lifespan for a Water Heater?
2 Warning Signs That Your Water Heater Has Corrosion
There are two visible warning signs that you have rust in your water heater.
1. Rust in Hot Water
Any orange, red, or brown discoloration in your hot water is a major warning sign. Somewhere in your hot water heater, rust has formed and is now flowing to your faucet or showerhead.
If this happens, contact your local water heater experts for advice.
2. Water Heater is Leaking Water
If there is water leaking out from your water heater, rust is the likely culprit. Metal gets brittle as it rusts.
Eventually, a portion of the metal water heater will become so weak that it flakes apart, allowing water to escape.
Contact a professional to help you replace the unit if this is the case.
Reasons for Water Heater Corrosion
There are potential reasons rust on a water heater:
- Anode Rod: This metal rod is designed to attract minerals and gasses. If it is working correctly, it will rust instead of allowing the tank to build corrosion. It’s possible that you can fix rust by replacing the rod, but not always.
- Broken Valve: A temperature-pressure release valve helps ensure proper pressure inside the heater tank. If not working properly, air can enter the water tank and cause corrosion.
- Worn Out Glass Lining: Inside the water tank, a glass lining protects the metal from corrosion. Over time, it can crack and make the tank vulnerable to rust.
- Hard Water: Mineral-rich water can cause rust in spite of a working anode rod. If you haven’t flushed the tank regularly, you could have corrosion.
- Connections: Corrosion on water heater connections will transfer to the tank, polluting the water.
- Heat Exchanger: If you have a water storage tank that receives heat from metal coils called a heat exchanger, then this element could be the source of rust. The water vapor can cause the exchanger to corrode.
Does Water Heater Rust Mean It Has To Be Replaced?
Most water heater corrosion points to one conclusion: you need to have it replaced. This is true even if the water heater has rust on the outside.
The consequences of not getting our water heater replaced when it has rust range from not having hot water for your family, all the way to inhaling deadly fumes and gasses.
That’s why you should have it checked out by someone who specializes in HVAC in Atlanta who can advise you quickly.
In some cases, such as a rusted heat exchanger or faulty anode rod, you might be in luck and avoid a replacement. But either way, you won’t know the next step for ensuring safe and reliable hot water for your home until an expert performs their evaluation.