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- By James Wisler
- Plumbing Tips
People don’t tend to look at their water heaters very often. Sometimes a water heater might be stuck in a storage room with boxes all around them, in a closet that never gets opened, or maybe in a rarely-visited attic. I would advise people to look over their water heater to make sure there aren’t any signs of rust or rupture. Be on the lookout for any brown marks or water marks running down the side. Rust is definitely not normal, and action should be taken as soon as it’s noticed.
Be aware that the leak may not even originate from the water heater itself. There could be a leak somewhere up high, or even on the water heater’s pipes. Water flows down the path of least resistance. The water you’re seeing could be falling on the top of the water heater and running down the side. Most new water heaters have foam insulation on them. However, if the water heater has any age on it at all, there’s a good chance that it uses fiberglass insulation. Once fiberglass insulation gets wet, it can no longer do its job very well. It can actually lead to mold growth and other issues.
Electric water heaters have two doors on the front of them. (These are access panels which are secured with screws.) Sometimes you’ll see rust marks coming from these doors, which generally means the element that screws into the water heater is leaking around the heating element itself. It’s definitely not normal to see these signs, and you should get a professional to check it out before it causes further problems.
Keep in mind that a leak may come and go as the water heater expands or contracts. Imagine placing a piece of metal or plastic out in full sun exposure. It will expand as it heats up and shrink as it cools back down. The same thing happens with your water heater. It’s important to understand that water heaters are constantly expanding and contracting as they heat and cool. You might not be able to see an active leak, but you should be able to spot the telltale signs of a leak. If the water heater has aged and it begins to leak, it can rupture and cause a huge mess. That’s why you definitely don’t want to procrastinate with these kinds of issues.
Aside from rust, there aren’t really any visual warning signs that a water heater is at risk of rupturing. However, other important external variables like excessive water pressure or poor water quality could lead to a rupture, too. (The water heater, pipes, and plumbing fixtures are only rated for so much pressure.) It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to lower the water pressure if it’s being provided at excessively high pressure from the municipality. Our technicians can check for these issues when they’re in the home.
Getting a trained, competent eye on your water heater is the best strategy to prevent unexpected issues. If you’d like to get scheduled maintenance performed on your water heater, reach out to the team at Wisler Plumbing & Air today. Contact us online or give us a call at 540-483-9382.