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The Rusted Water Heater: The End of the Line?


Rust begins to develop on, or in your water heater due to corrosion. Unfortunately, rust usually means that your water heater needs to be replaced, with a couple of exceptions. If you have noticed rust on your water heater, it’s better to act quickly in case repairs can be made.

Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in a water heater replacement. Either way, our team can help. You can keep reading to learn more about rust on or around your water heater and when it means that you need a replacement.


Inside the Water Tank

If you turn on your hot water and notice that it has a rusty tinge to it, there’s a good chance that there is rust developing inside of your water tank. Rust begins developing because of corrosion. Your water tank has an anode rod that is designed to help prevent rust. However, it needs to be replaced every few years as it wears down. If it is not replaced there’s a higher likelihood that corrosion will happen inside of the tank.

Hard water is also a contributing factor. If you have hard water, it has high mineral content. While you cannot see these minerals when you pour a glass of water, over time they can create a sediment that deteriorates the lining of your hot water tank. This allows rust to begin developing, and once it starts there is no way to stop it. You cannot repair rust from inside a water tank, and instead need to replace the entire tank.


Outside the Water Tank

Rust on the outside of your water tank is also a problem. If there is too much humidity in the surrounding air or a leak, rust can develop from the outside in. There are some cases when rust can be addressed before it causes too many problems.

For example, sometimes connections to your water heater rust, while the tank is unaffected. If you have pipes, valves or other connectors that are developing rust, get them replaced right away before the rust spreads to your water heater. 


Preventing Rust

You can prevent rust in a few ways. The first is by scheduling maintenance for your water heater each year. The best way to stay ahead of water heater problems is to have an expert take a look at the system and make sure that everything is in good condition. You can also change out the anode rod when the time comes, usually every three years or so.

Our team can check the anode rod during one of our water heater maintenance appointments. If you have hard water that could contribute to corrosion, you have a couple of options. One is to flush your water tank annually to get rid of sediment buildup. The other option is to invest in a water filtration system that eliminates the minerals in hard water before the water ever enters your home. 

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