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Water Damage From Your Water Heater

Most of us don’t give our water heater a second thought, but it is one of those elements in our homes that can be a major source of water damage from your water heater if not properly monitored and maintained. Learn about the ins and outs of water heater problems, particularly those that may lead to more serious problems later on.

Most water heaters have a ten to fifteen year life span, due primarily to the fact that they are used multiple times each day, and as a result, they age faster. A considerable amount of water also flows through the water heater every day, which of course means that problems that do develop may rapidly become serious. Most water heaters are put in the basement of new home constructs, so that any water damage that does occur is confined to that lowest level.  The problem inherent to this approach is that the water heater is often “out of sight”, which translates into “out of mind”. This means that potential problems go unnoticed for extended periods. A good rule of thumb t of follow is to replace your water heater every ten or twelve years, since waiting for it to break down may cause additional problems and additional repair costs.

When inspecting the water heater for problems, look for wet spots or rust on the tank itself, as well as signs of water stains or runs anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the tank. Rust is a clear sign that damage has already occurred, damage that will only get worse over time. Remember that water damage never magically heals or repairs itself.

Also, sediment may build up in the tank over a period of time, and this will reduce the efficiency of the unit. Your manual should provide instructions on how to clean sediment out of the tank, and this should be done every few months to increase your water heater’s life span.

Always check the pipes going into and out of your water heater. Pipes may occasionally spring leaks which will require professional assistance to repair. When pipes and hoses need to be repaired, it is almost always preferable to replace them with high quality, heavy duty, steel braided hoses. These are more resistant to wear and are far less likely to spring leaks.

Lastly, check the bottom drain valve for any signs of rust or corrosion. Remember that any signs of rust or leakage mean a problem with the water heater. Some of these may be repaired while others may require that the unit be replaced.

Far too many people make the mistake of thinking that their water heater will last forever. It is not designed to do so and it is one of the hardest working units in your home.  Take the time on a monthly or bi monthly basis to inspect the unit and all of its connections for signs of wear and tear. Make repairs or replace the unit as necessary.

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