How Can You Tell If Your Water Heater Is Rusting Internally?

Feb 28, 2022

When a water heater starts to rust from the inside, it can result in unsafe drinking water, cause leaks in your tank, and make you have to pay for an expensive replacement. Since an internal water heater can be dangerous to your home and health, it’s a good idea to know the main signs that your water heater is rusting internally. Learn more about these signs and why water heaters rust in the first place, so you can take action fast to fix the issue.

Why Do Water Heaters Rust Internally?

Before you start looking for the signs of a water heater rusting from the inside, you’ll need to know why they usually rust in the first place. One of the major reasons for an internally rusting water heater is a deteriorated anode rod. These rods are placed inside your tank and attract rust to them to prevent rust from spreading to the rest of the tank. When an anode rod significantly deteriorates and isn’t replaced quickly, it can cause your water heater to rust internally.

Not flushing your water tank at recommended intervals is another reason for water heater rust, as sediment from well or city water will build up in the tank. This build-up of rust-producing particles found in city and well water at the bottom of your water heater will cause the tank to rust. As a result, regular flushing based on the tank’s size and the number of users is critical to stopping internal water heater rust.

Additionally, well or hard water often has rust-producing particles in it, like iron, that can build up in the tank. If your water heater system utilizes hard water and you don’t use a filtration system or water softener on it, particles in the water will lead to rust.

Why Are Rusting Water Heaters a Problem?

A water tank with internal rusting can end up causing your water to be unsafe to drink. It can also cause your water to smell bad and look discolored. Besides harming your source of bathing and drinking water, rust inside your tank can cause small holes to form, leading to leaks. In rare cases, rusted water heaters can even cause your water tank to burst.

4 Main Signs of a Water Heater Rusting Internally

Since rust can make your water unsafe and cause leaks, it’s important you know the main signs your water heater is rusting internally. By knowing the primary warning signals that your water heater is rusting, you can act fast to prevent greater damage to your water heater and ensure your water is safe to use. Find out more about the four main signs of a water heater rusting internally below:

  • Water discoloration and smell: If your hot water starts to develop a smell or takes on a brown color, you might have an issue with internal rust. Since your hot water has to pass through your water heater, any rust in the tank could get in the water and cause it to look and smell bad. You can usually test if your water heater is at fault by draining a couple of gallons of water from the tank and seeing if it’s discolored. 
  • A missing or significantly rusted anode rod: When you look inside your water heater tank and don’t see an anode rod, you’ve likely found the source of rust. Since the anode rod prevents rust, not having one will cause your water heater to rust. You can fix this issue by contacting a plumbing professional to replace the rod with a new one.
  • Metallic tasting water: Another top sign of internal water heater rust is if your water has a metallic taste to it. Metallic tasting water signals that your water heater contains rust inside it. After you taste metal in your water, you’ll want to stop using it until a plumber can inspect the unit and check if there’s rust inside your water heater.
  • Water heater leaks: Internal rust can corrode your water heater’s metal tank and cause it to leak. If you notice your water heater is leaking, you’ll want to immediately contact a plumber to inspect the issue. Since cracks and leaks are signs of major damage to your water heater, you’ll likely need the plumber to replace the unit

Choose Newcomb and Company for Water Heater Repair and Replacement Services in Raleigh

If you think you might need water heater repair or replacement services in Raleigh, turn to Newcomb and Company. Our team of plumbing professionals can inspect your water heater and discover if it’s rusting. Once we locate any rust, we can advise you on whether a repair or replacement is best for you, ensuring you understand all your options before providing any services. We also offer comfort contracts to our clients, with these maintenance plans designed to help spot and solve issues that could harm your water heater.

Find out more about our plumbing services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule a water heater inspection, please contact us.

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