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Does Rust on a Water Heater Mean It’s Finished?

sunny-plumber-doorwayWhenever you bring metal and water into contact, there’s the possibility of rust and other types of corrosion starting. A water heater would therefore seem like a prime target for rust, which it certainly can be under the right (or wrong) conditions. However, water heater manufacturers design their products to resist corrosion for many years. When rust does appear, it’s often on an aging system that’s ready for a replacement.

But as bad as rust sounds, is it an automatic disqualifier for a water heater? If you notice rust on your home’s water heater in Las Vegas, NV, does that mean it’s time to call us to replace it? Possibly. We’ll talk about it more below. 

Water heater vs. rust

Corrosion occurs when water is in contact with metal in the presence of oxygen—which is why water heaters are designed to help prevent this from occurring. Water heaters have several features that keep away rust. Old water heaters used to have air at the top of the tank to serve as a pressure cushion, but now an expansion valve on top of the unit does the same job without allowing oxygen into the tank. The inside of the tank has a glass lining. 

And finally, there’s the anode rod, a critical part of the water heater’s longevity. The anode rod attracts corrosion to itself so that it rusts through rather than the tank. The anode rod needs to be changed every few years when it rusts completely, and this is one of the reasons we recommend you have regular maintenance. Technicians will always check on the anode rod to see if it’s ready to be replaced. 

But if a water heater lasts long enough, rust can get through and affects parts of it. And when that happens… 

Most of the time, the water heater needs to be replaced

If you see rust on the tank or at connecting points, there isn’t much that can be done about it. Likely there’s more rust inside the tank as well. If your water heater is already over 12 years old, then it’s coming to the end of its service life and this rust is simply the sign you needed to tell you to replace it. 

Another place to notice rust isn’t on the water heater itself, but in the hot water in the house. When a reddish discoloration appears in the water coming from the hot water taps all around the house, it likely means the tank has rusted all the way through and the unit needs a replacement. 

If you see rust occurring on the heat exchanger or the burners in a gas heater, these can be replaced individually. However, this is often expensive and if the water heater is already at an advanced age, you’re probably better off with a new system. 

If you aren’t sure about the next step to take, you can always reach out to our professionals to examine your water heater and offer you expert advice.

Call us for water heater service in Las Vegas. Bright and Shiny and won’t show our Hiney!

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