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Water Heaters And Water Damage
We’ve all had it happen at one time or another. We walk into our basement only to discover that most of it is under a thin layer of water. If the room isn’t completely flooded, then you may be able to trace the problem back to its source, which in many cases, is the water heater. When they go bad, they do so in a big way, with the bottom rusting out and springing a leak and letting water have free run of your home. At this point the only option is to replace the water heater, which may be a $600-$1000 or more proposition, depending on what you need.
Most of the water heaters in use today are built to last around 10 to 15 years, and will inevitably deteriorate over a period of time. The unit is frequently used and as the year goes by it is subjected to extremes of hot and cold which can’t help but produce serious wear and tear on the unit. Once a water heater starts showing signs of rust, it is advisable to replace it.
Water heaters should be installed in the lowest level of the home in order to minimize any water damage that may occur. If the home is a single story, then the garage is the best bet. If the heater is powered by natural gas, then you should make sure that the exhaust vent and shield are well attached and functioning within normal parameters.
Your hot water heater’s tank should be inspected periodically, because when it fails, that is where it will happen. Look for any wet spots on the floor around the tank, as well as rust on the tank itself. Rust is always a precursor to failure of the tank. Small leaks may be fixed if caught early enough, but even that is only going to postpone the inevitable failure of the tank. Once you start finding flaws, start shopping for a new tank.
Once every few months, take the time to clean the tank and remove any sediment from the bottom. This will require that a portion of the tank be drained as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The bottom drain valve should be inspected and repaired whenever any leaks become apparent.
For the plumbing that services the tank, check both the inlet and outlet pipes for leaks. If you find any, shut off the water and call in a professional water restoration company for repairs. If the plumbing is within the walls, then use infrared thermography to inspect the piping and look for leaks.
Ideally, your water heater should be located next to a floor drain in order to minimize the damage in the event that it springs a leak. If it must be installed elsewhere, have a drainage system designed to channel any excess water to the floor drain. Corrosion and rust will promote leaks in the drain valve in the bottom of the tank, so they should be inspected and serviced regularly.