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Rust on Your Water Heater: Does That Mean It Must Be Replaced?


Your water heater is critical to your comfort. Cold showers are no fun, especially during the chillier times of year, and cold water doesn’t do a great job getting the dishes clean. So when you notice that something is wrong with your water heater, even if it hasn’t totally failed to produce hot water yet, you need to get it sorted out right away.

If the problem that you’ve noticed is rust, you may be seriously concerned. Rust can be a sign that your water heater is ready for retirement. But are repairs possible? While rust on your water heater can mean it’s time to replace it, there’s a chance that all you need is repair. We’ll spell out the details for you.

Rust Problems That Can Be Repaired

If you’re noticing discolored water when you turn on a hot water tap, that could mean that there’s corrosion inside the tank of the water heater. But it could also be from bacteria. There’s a component called the anode rod which inhibits both rust and bacterial growth. It makes the water in your tank a hostile environment for those things. 

It’s also sometimes called the sacrificial anode rod. This is because it will rust rather than allow the tank to corrode. If it’s caught early, you can simply sacrifice it, have a new anode rod put in, and preserve your water heater.

Another case of rust that can be repaired is if that rust is only on small, specific components. For example, sometimes rust occurs on connection points, where the tank of the water heater connects to the pipes that carry the hot water throughout your home. If the rust is limited to those components, and repairs are prompt, they may be able to be replaced before the tank falls victim to corrosion.

Rust Problems That Necessitate Replacement

The water storage tank itself cannot be repaired. Welding or soldering the tank to patch rusted places would weaken the tank and cause further problems. So when the rust is occurring in or on the actual tank, replacement is the only solution.

Water heater tanks are specially coated to resist rusting, and the anode rod is a further tool to extend the life of the metal and protect against corrosion. It takes many years for corrosion to affect the tank itself, and at that point, replacement in the near future is inevitable anyway. As they reach that age, water heaters experience more failures and more repair needs, until replacement is the better investment overall.

Water Heater Replacement

There are many options for a new water heater. Gas or electric? Tank or tankless? What size? What brand? Consulting with a qualified plumber to learn more about water heaters in East Norriton, PA will help you choose the model that best fits your needs and your budget. 

Once you have selected the water heater you want, there’s one thing you can do to set yourself up for success. Professional water heater installation helps to avoid everything from immediate hazards or water damage to frequent future repair needs and even shortened life of the water heater. Don’t DIY—have this job done by an expert.

Contact Platinum Plumbing & Heating, Inc. today to schedule an appointment with our pros.

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