What Causes Water Heater Breakdown

What Causes Water Heater Breakdown
March 21, 2013 Lorelie
water heater breakdown

Water Heater Breakdown

Water heaters, just like any other home appliance, can help us make our lives easier.  However, as long as it is being used by you and your family, then you have to make sure that it is working fine and it is maintained regularly.  If you own a water heater at home, then you should be well aware of the causes that can potentially make your water heater breakdown, unless it is perfectly fine for you to just spend money and buy another one.

1.  Sediment Buildup

Sediments or scale is usually created when hard water is heated up.  It normally builds up in the bottom part of the water heater unit, wherein the sediments insulate the tank bottom from the protection of the anode.  This also causes the tank bottom to overheat and eventually melt away the protective glass lining of the water heater unit.  There are many instances that homeowners said that the bottom of their water heater dropped out and their garage or basement was flooded due to this.  As someone who uses a water heater, you also ought to know that too much sediment buildup can also void the warranties in commercial water heater units.

2.  Very High Water Pressure

Most people are not very much aware of this culprit that can cause a water heater breakdown.  The water pressure gauge that is present on the drain valve of a typical water heater unit must always show a pressure that is between 60 to 80 psi.  Anything that is more than 80 psi can really damage your water heater unit, the piping and the other appliances it is linked to.  If you have a very high water pressure, then you must have a pressure-reducing valve and maybe even an expansion tank.  The expansion tank will protect against damage from thermal expansion (which occurs when a water heater fires up in a closed system in order to maintain temperature, but when nobody is currently using hot water).  One way to know is when the temperature pressure relief valve begins opening and closing.  However, in time they often stop working.

3.  Corrosive Fumes

To most people, it had never crossed their mind that their simple household cleaners (such as bleach, ammonia and other acids) can potentially make a water heater unit break down.  However, because of the fact that water heater units draw in air for combustion, and the components present in the air is crucial.  Bleach, ammonia, acids and anything else near it can potentially break the water heater unit down due to their corrosive nature.

If in case the water heater unit draws corrosive air into the burner, then the fumes that will be created there will prove to be detrimentally corrosive, thus corroding the water heater as a result.  This can potentially lead to premature water heater tank failure.  Moreover, you should not store bleach, ammonia and other corrosive agents where the water heater is placed, especially in tiny closed spaces because the fumes will quickly cause the water heater unit to corrode.

4.  Internal Rust

If you have a water heater unit at home, then you should be well aware of the fact that its sacrificial anodes tend to get used up in the long run.  If these sacrificial anodes are not replaced when they are supposed to, then the tank would rust and then eventually, it would leak.  Even if you replace it with a powered anode, it would be too late at that time.

For many water heater owners, they should be made aware that water softeners oftentimes speed up anode consumption.  Under typical situations, if you have a water heater unit with a 5-year warranty, then that means that you can wait until those 5 years is almost up before you check its anode.  For those individuals who use water softeners must check their anodes about once a year or once every 2 years.  Another possible option for individuals who use water softeners is to use a powered anode, which is considered to be a permanent replacement to the sacrificial anode and it does not get used up as well as it does not need to be replaced.

5.  Improper Sizing

Is your water heater unit a hard worker at your household?  Is it always running all the time?  Every water heater manufacturer nowadays have sizing programs that will let you input a specific number of people, number of appliances, number of bathrooms and then you will be given an estimate of the gallons and BTU in figures, which are usually along with several models that are able to fit those parameters.  If you purchase a water heater unit that is too small for the tasks it will have to perform, it will gradually break down because of the constant contraction and expansion of the tank, even if the water pressure is normal and even if you frequently change the anode.

6.  Neglect

One of the most common ways on how a water heater breaks down is neglect - the person who buys them, installs them, and forgets about them should be the one responsible in taking care of them as well.  Water heater units are normally placed in areas such as in the basement where the residents of the house seldom go to, which is obvious that nobody will ever check on that unit for a very long time.  The availability of water heaters at home are only taken for granted as long as they are working out fine, but of course, until they break down.  Make sure that your water heater unit will not end up suddenly breaking down and needing replacement, so do mark your calendar and schedule a regular maintenance check so you do not have to go through the trouble.

Over time, leaks can appear which can gradually damage your water heater unit from the outside.  When your water heater unit has this kind of problem, then it is quite a little late to perform maintenance work on it.  Additionally, if you put off maintenance work for far too long on your water heater unit, leaks can also develop inside the tank as well.

7.  Leaking unions and flex lines

Unions and flex lines have to be really tightened after about 6 months due to the fact that the rubber washers will shrink down and then start to leak.  These fittings, when neglected, can result to the breaking down of your water heater unit because it will rust from outside to the inside.

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