If you run your hot water and it comes out discoloured with a brown or reddish tinge, chances are that your hot water tank or water heater has rusted and corroded on the inside. Besides being unsightly it can also have an unpleasant smell and should be repaired as soon as possible. Hot water tanks not only heat water but store it for later use, so the tanks internal components are constantly exposed to water. A build up of sediment over time, from rusty mains water supply piping, can also lead to a build up of rust on the bottom of a tank, which can lead to similar symptoms as lower heating elements can get clogged, overheat and then burn out. Other common problems with accumulation of sediment in hot water tanks include noise, which can be remedied by flushing the system.
Types of Hot Water Tanks
There are two primary types of hot water heaters, electric and fuel-fired, the latter typically utilising gas or oil, and are the most cost effective tanks. Hot water tanks typically generate heat via elements which are immersed in the water in the main body of the tank. Hot water tanks are typically manufactured from steel with a glass lining that is intended to inhibit corrosion. The addition of a magnesium or aluminium anode rod in the tank is intended to further inhibit corrosion by corroding itself slowly over time, and is intended to protect the steel tank. This rod needs to be replaced periodically to avoid the tanks itself corroding. If it is not the steel tank will become compromised and a leak is inevitable if it is not serviced or replaced.
Maintenance of Hot Water Tanks
Plumbing maintenance should be performed by plumbers that are fully qualified, licensed, and insured. Request to see a plumber’s paperwork to see if you are in any doubt. The following are some common maintenance procedures that can improve the efficiency and lifespan of your hot water tank:
- Replace the anode rode regularly – if you are looking for a new heater make sure that the anode rod is easily accessible for future maintenance
- Flush the system regularly – the accumulation of sediment in the bottom of a hot water tank can cause the elements to overheat
- Insulate the tank and pipes to increase the efficiency of the system and prevent unnecessary heat loss
Find a plumber, emergency plumber or green plumber in your local area to service your hot water tank.