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Why Water Heaters Fail (And How to Prevent It)

Published: November 13, 2020
reducing risk of plumbing failure

No one likes cold showers, especially during the winter. Here are six of the most common reasons water heaters fail and ways you can minimize this risk.

Sediment buildup in tank 

Over time, small particles and dissolved contents in your water supply collect inside your tank. Regular maintenance includes flushing the tank at least once per year. If you live in an area with hard water, your entire plumbing system, including your water heater, could benefit from a water softener.


Tanks contain rods that act as sacrificial anodes. These rods corrode more easily than the tank itself, which helps extend its lifespan. However, these anodes eventually need to be replaced or your tank will corrode. Piping connections can also rust so be on the lookout for corroded pipes and call in a plumber to repair or replace if needed.

corroded anode rod causing water heater failure

Incorrect water pressure 

Water pressure that exceeds the recommended limit can cause your water heater components to fail. If you are concerned about the water pressure in your area, call in a professional to evaluate. You may need to install a pressure reducing valve to control the water entering your heater.

Not enough combustion air 

Insufficient combustion air can not only result in lukewarm showers but is also a safety risk. If your gas-fired water heater is not getting enough combustion air, it can result in increased carbon monoxide production. Keep the space around your heater free from clutter. If you are concerned about your water heater’s combustion ability, let a professional investigate.

Buildup on heating elements 

Similar to buildup in your tank, the buildup of hard water deposits can prevent electrical heating elements from transferring heat to your water. Keeping these elements clean will keep your water heater functional and reduce the risk of future electrical problems.

Faulty thermostat 

Did you know your water heater has a built-in thermostat to adjust heating to maintain the water temperature in the tank? If it does not shut off, your water can overheat and put you at risk of scalding. Alternatively, this thermostat may not turn on enough, resulting in a lower tank temperature. This can cause bacterial growth along with colder water throughout your home.

If you need help maintaining your water heater to make sure it stays functional, Tiger Plumbing is here to help. Give us a call or schedule service online today.


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