Does Corrosion Mean the End of the Line for My Water Heater?

When your water heater is near the end of its life, there are some very obvious signs. One of those signs is corrosion, but it’s not necessarily a guarantee you need a new water heater. Before you rush to replace your heater, you should know that corrosion doesn’t automatically mean your water heater is gone. A simple repair could be all that’s necessary, but you can’t tell unless you call for water heater repair and installation.

Why Does Corrosion Happen?

 Before you can learn more about what corrosion means for your water heater, you should know why it happens. Rust is what happens when corrosion occurs, so you’ve probably seen it many times in your life. Typically, rust is everywhere around you.

Corrosion and rust happen when a material wears away after a chemical reaction. For example, iron starts to wear down when oxygen interacts with the iron molecules. After being exposed to the air or to water, iron starts to degrade and develop a reddish color. 

Despite being a natural process, corrosion isn’t a good thing. If corrosion happens in your plumbing pipes, you need to replace your pipes. Likewise, if it happens in your water heater, you may need to replace the heater. The chemical reaction weakens the metal of your heater and could eventually lead to a flood. 

Anti-Corrosion Measures

If water heaters didn’t have some type of anti-corrosion features, they would wear out in a matter of months. So, all water heaters come with a few methods of resisting corrosion. 

For instance, water heaters often have a glass lining on the interior of the tank. They also may have a pressure relief valve designed to keep air from getting into the tank. When oxygen levels are reduced, oxidation is reduced, and corrosion is less likely to occur.

The sacrificial anode rod is one of the keys to preventing corrosion. Made of magnesium or aluminum, the rod attracts gases and minerals from the inside of the tank. Instead of attacking the tank walls, the particles strike the anode rod.  

In older water heaters, there was a thin layer of air to prevent the water pressure from getting too high. However, the air made corrosion much more likely. In newer water heaters, there is no air in the tank. 

When Do You Need to Replace the Tank?

Back to the question at hand – do you need to replace your tank if you see corrosion? If your water heater is over a decade old and has corrosion, you should replace the water heater. You might be able to repair the issue, but it will only be a matter of time before you have more trouble.

Even with maintenance, a traditional water heater won’t last for much longer than a decade. Consider this example. Your nine-year-old water heater has corrosion due to a bad sacrificial anode. If a professional replaces the anode rod, your heater will continue to work. But the age of your heater makes it likely that you’ll soon have a problem with your heat exchanger or another component.

In the case of a cracked water heater tank, there’s no way around a replacement. You can’t repair a crack in a water heater tank. By the time the tank cracks, the corrosion is extreme, and the tank is too weak to function safely. 

Minor Issues

If the corrosion only affects one part of your water heater, you should consult with an expert for water heater installation and repair. There could be a simple fix to your issue. 

Without seeking professional guidance, you can’t know whether or not you need to replace your water heater. Repairs aren’t usually an option because there’s no way to undo corrosion. Rather, you need to replace the corroded parts, or your problem will persist.

The second you suspect corrosion, call your favorite plumber. If a repair is sufficient, you need to act swiftly. The corrosion will only worsen and cause more damage to your water heater. 

Do Tankless Water Heaters Get Corrosion?

There are many benefits to having tankless water heaters. One of those benefits is a reduced chance of corrosion. However, corrosion is still a possibility. It’s important to realize that your tankless water heater could experience corrosion. 

In a tankless system, water only contacts the water heater for a short time. This makes corrosion less common but not impossible. If you have a leak in your system, the water could get onto the burners and kickstart the corrosion process. As the metal breaks down, flakes of rust keep the water heater from being efficient. 

Fortunately, a tankless water heater is easier to repair when it comes to corrosion. You might only need a quick repair. 

What Should You Do If You Notice Corrosion?

Unlike other water heater issues, corrosion is easy to spot. If you have red, brown, or orange water, you could have a tank with corrosion. The rust inside the tank breaks off and has nowhere to go besides your faucets. 

Another sign of corrosion is a leaky water heater. Although there are other causes of leaking, one of the more frequent issues is a corroded tank or plumbing. Even though you might not be able to see the corrosion, you can see the effects of it. The chemical process weakens your metal and results in cracks. 

As soon as you spot the two signs of corrosion, call a plumber. There’s no way to know for sure whether you need to repair or replace your water heater. It takes a detailed inspection to learn the answer. 

Call Us for Water Heater Repair and Installation

 The first and only thing you should do if you suspect corrosion is call us at Infinity Plumbing Services. Our team has years of experience dealing with corrosion, and we know what to do to fix the problem. When you need a water heater repair and installation, our experts take the time to determine the best course of action for your budget and your needs. If you’re ready to get started, call us today.