Your water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home, and yet in spite of this fact, it also has one of the shortest lifespans of any of your appliances as well. A heating and cooling system can regularly last 20 to 25 years, a refrigerator or range top can easily go 15 to 20 years, and plenty of others can come fairly close to this range as well. However, a water heater will generally last only between eight and ten years before it eventually needs to be replaced. The largest reason for mandatory replacement: leaking tanks.
A leaking water heater is a serious problem: it can ruin drywall, damage your foundation, rot away at the structure of your home, and waste a ton of water and energy. Because fixing this problem simply isn’t all that practical, a leak almost always guarantees you will need to fully replace your water heater outright. But what causes your tank to leak in the first place? Can you possibly prevent this problem from happening? This blog will explain five reasons that water heater tanks leak and whether or not it’s possible to do anything to slow the wear and tear process in order to preserve your water heater even longer.
Excessive Pressure in the Tank
The constant draining, refilling, and reheating process creates a fair amount of pressure in your water heater tank. As air heats up, it expands, and that means it takes up more volume, increasing the pressure on the inside of your tank. This can cause all sorts of problems if the issue isn’t taken care of properly. In fact, in extremely rare instances, a tank-style water heater could literally explode if too much pressure builds up and safety valves fail. Rather than exploding, this pressure buildup contributes to the formation of small cracks that eventually grow and become major leaks that necessitate a full water heater replacement.
Fluctuating Water Temperatures
Water that pours into your water heater isn’t exactly warm. When cold water suddenly replaces what was warm water, you have a situation that could introduce principles of thermal shock. When you expose hot metal to cold water, the sudden change in temperature dramatically changes the molecular structure of metal, and can make it harder and more brittle. That makes it more prone to cracking under pressure and experiencing wear and tear. Eventually, this leads to a tank wearing out and springing a leak. There isn’t really anything you can do about it, either—it’s one of those facts of life for a tank-style water heater.
Corrosion from Water Exposure
Water contributes to a process known as oxidization. When the inside of your tank oxidizes, it corrodes and rusts, creating a weaker material that isn’t capable of containing water to the degree it once did. There is nothing you can do to prevent this—while an anode rod (an electrically charged metal rod that is suspended in the middle of your tank) can help slow this process by encouraging water to oxidize it first rather than your tank itself, the tank will eventually fall victim to oxidizing from water. There is some good news, however: this is a problem that can be spotted through additional symptoms in your water. If your hot water and smells of metal or the water from the faucet turns slightly reddish-brown when you turn on the hot tap, then you probably have a corrosion problem.
Excessive Sediment Buildup
Sediment is a normal problem for water heaters to have. Because the water that fills your tank isn’t pure, the sediment that is included in the water can and does accumulate at the bottom of your tank. Periodic maintenance drains this sediment out, but it can and does contribute to your tank springing a leak before you can clear it away for good.
Poor Water Quality
In addition to sediment particles, your water may also contain trace amounts of other chemical substances that could contribute to your water heater tank wearing out. While we’re privileged to live where our water is considered clean, safe, and potable, our water isn’t pure, and some of those inclusions can contribute to your water heater wearing out faster. This is one way a whole-home water filtration system can greatly improve your home: by greatly improving the lifespan of your appliances.Have your water heater replaced or learn more about upgrading to a tankless water heating system by calling Moe Plumbing at (818) 396-8002 today!