3 Costly Consequences Of Deferred Water Heater Replacement

The conventional, tank-style water heaters in most homes will last about a decade, assuming you follow a routine maintenance schedule. You can help extend your water heater's life through routine maintenance tasks, such as flushing away sediment or replacing the anode rod. Unfortunately, all water heaters will inevitably fail. 

Unlike other appliances, there's often no amount of money you can spend to keep an older water heater operational. The typical failure mode for these units is internal corrosion of the water tank, something that's unavoidable thanks to basic chemistry. If you know your water heater is on its last legs, here are three potentially costly consequences of waiting for total failure before replacing it.

1. Damaged Fixtures, Tubs, and Sinks

Water heater manufacturers build their storage tanks primarily from steel, with an inner glass lining to help protect against corrosion. A sacrificial anode rod takes this one step further, helping to attract ions that would cause oxidation in the steel tank. However, both of these protective measures will eventually fail, and the internal lining of the tank will rust.

Once rust sets in, it's only a matter of time until the tank fails. However, this transitional period can allow a substantial amount of rust to enter your hot water supply. While not harmful, this rust can stain sinks and faucets, potentially causing permanent damage if you don't quickly clean it. Once rust appears in your hot water, your water heater's failure is likely inevitable.

2. Major Leaks

Water heaters can leak from a few different locations. In newer water heaters, it's common to discover leaks near inlet and outlet pipes or at the temperature and pressure relief valve. Although annoying, these leaks are relatively minor problems that are easy to fix. Unfortunately, the leaks that occur as a water heater fails are much more severe.

Since water heaters fail due to internal corrosion, water will eventually leak through the weakest parts of the tank. Sometimes, these leaks may be small enough that they won't produce more than a puddle. In other cases, the leak can be severe enough to make a huge mess. If your water heater is in an area where water damage is an issue, you should never wait for your tank to fail catastrophically.

3. Emergency Plumbing Calls

Of course, losing your hot water is the worst part of a water heater failure! Once your tank ruptures, you'll no longer be able to use the heater. In fact, you'll need to shut off the water supply to prevent additional water damage. Unfortunately, a sudden failure may mean going without hot water for quite some time if it happens in the middle of the night or during a busy season for plumbers.

Replacing your water heater once you know its failure is imminent can help you arrange a replacement on your schedule. You won't need to choose between living without hot water or making an expensive emergency call, helping to reduce the financial pain of a replacement.

Contact a local plumber to learn more about residential water heater replacement.