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3 Preventable Causes of a Burst Water Heater

A Water Heater
Hot water is a valuable commodity in any home. Without hot water it would be difficult to clean dishes or clothing, enjoy a comfortable shower, or wash your hands without discomfort. Many residential properties rely on a water heater system with a storage tank to provide the hot water needed for various tasks throughout the day.

Although your water heater is a valuable asset, it can become a source of stress if it is not cared for properly. Poorly maintained water heaters are more likely to burst, causing flooding and water damage throughout your home.

The most common causes of a burst water heater can be prevented with regular maintenance. Read on to learn more.

1. Sediment Buildup

Many homes have hard water. This means that the water being delivered to your home by your municipal water system contains trace minerals, like calcium and magnesium. As the water sits inside the storage tank of your water heater waiting to be used, these trace minerals can be deposited onto the bottom of the tank.

Sediment buildup can reduce the efficiency of your water heater by creating a barrier between the heating element and the water within the tank. The heating element will work harder to achieve proper water temperatures, and this can lead to overheating and deterioration of your tank. Eventually, the tank will burst.

Popping or knocking sounds coming from your water heater are a good indication that sediment is building up in the tank. These sounds are the result of water trapped beneath the sediment layer pushing through. Flush your water heater's tank regularly to prevent sediment buildup from causing the tank to burst unexpectedly.

2. Rust

Another problem that you need to be mindful of when caring for your water heater is rust. The tank of your water heater is made from steel. Steel has a high iron content, and iron can begin to corrode when exposed to water for long periods of time. Rust can weaken the structural integrity of your water heater and cause the tank to burst.

Your water heater is equipped with an internal protection mechanism against rust. A sacrificial anode rod is inserted into the tank. Instead of attacking the tank itself, corrosion affects the anode rod. In order for this system to work properly, you need to replace the anode rod on a regular basis.

Once the rod has completely corroded, your water heater will start to become affected by rust. Check the condition of the rod on a regular basis to prevent any corrosion that might lead to a burst water heater in the future.

3. Internal Pressure

As the temperature within your water heater increases, so does the amount of internal pressure within the tank. This internal pressure is regulated by a temperature and pressure release valve. The valve opens when internal pressure becomes too high so that the mounting pressure doesn't cause your water heater to burst. 

If you notice that your temperature and pressure release valve is opening frequently to release water from your water heater, then you likely have an internal pressure problem. You can prevent internal pressure from causing your water heater to burst by lowering the temperature setting on your water heater. The EPA suggests keeping your temperature set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to maximize efficiency and keep internal pressure to a minimum.

You should also have an experienced plumber check the function of your temperature and pressure release valve a few times a year to ensure the valve is working properly. A failed valve could lead to a burst water heater.

Contact Dave-Co Plumbing to provide your water heater with the maintenance required to avoid a burst tank.