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Water Heater Failure: 5 Causes And How to Prevent Them

water heater failure solutions sullivan county

The average lifespan of a storage-type water heater (one with a tank) is between eight and twelve years, according to; once they enter their second decade, water heaters usually start to show signs of their inevitable decline.

The question is can you do anything to slow or prevent these problems that will eventually lead to a water heater breakdown? Let’s take a look.

Common water heater failure warning signs and solutions

  • Problem 1: Rust – Combine a steel storage tank and standing water with a slight ionic charge and you have perfect conditions for corrosion. But some smart water tank designers came up with a solution: create a device that would draw corrosive elements to itself rather than the tank walls, in effect “taking one for the team.” That’s exactly what an anode rod does. Sometimes called a “sacrificial rod (for obvious reasons), an anode rod is a steel core wire surrounded with either aluminum, magnesium or zinc that mounts to the top of your water heater tank. A typical anode rod will last about five years – about half that long if you use a water softener. Once an anode rod is spent, it needs to be replaced quickly to prevent accelerated tank rust.

    Solution: Get regular professional water heater maintenance, and be sure your technician checks your anode rod when he inspects your equipment; do this a minimum of once every other year.

  • Problem 2: Sediment buildup – All water contains some amount of minerals; when water is heated, those minerals separate from the water and settle onto the bottom of your water heater storage tank. Over time, these sediment accumulate, reducing the efficiency of your water heater and potentially damaging the tank.

    Solution: Flush your water heater once a year.

  • Problem 3: Water pressure problems – Water pressure that is set too high can damage your water heater, pipes, and appliances. If water is leaking from the overflow pipe on the side of your water heater, you could have a water pressure problem.

    Solution: Keep the water pressure on your heater no higher than 80 psi, and consider replacing your temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve. Contact a water heater repair professional if you need help doing this.

  • Problem 4: A wrong-sized water heater – If a water heater is mismatched for its heating load, it will overwork to do its job, leading to wear and tear and a potential premature breakdown.

    Solution: Contact a water heater expert to make sure your current water heater is right-sized for your home and lifestyle.

  • Problem 5: Age – Once a conventional water heater reaches its second decade, it’s living on borrowed time. Keep an eye out for some of the telltale signs of water heater mentioned above, plus any other obvious signs of diminished performance (higher energy bills, for example).

    Solution: If your water heater is at the end of its life span, consider replacing it with a reliable new high-efficiency water heater upgrade.

Having problems with your water heater? Don’t delay – contact Black Bear today for expert water heater maintenance, water heater repairs, and water heater installations in Sullivan County, NY.