Does Rust on My Water Heater Mean I Need a New One?

Does Rust on My Water Heater Mean I Need a New One?

rusty-water-heater-old-houseYou probably know that the water heater in your house won’t last forever. But because the average water heater that receives regular maintenance can sometimes last for over two decades, it’s easy to slip into thinking that it’ll always be working for you and you won’t have to worry about it. 

Then one day you notice rust on the water heater, or a rusty discoloration appears in the hot water. Alarm bells go off in your head. Rust can’t be a good sign. In fact, it might mean the water heater is finished and it’s time to have a new one installed. 

But is this 100% true? Is a water heater with corrosion a water heater destined for the recycling yard?

Well, Not Always

No question about it, rust or other types of corrosion are bad news for any metal appliance. It permanently weakens the metal and its presence usually indicates general wear and failure of preventive measures. However, corrosion restricted to certain areas of the water heater can be remedied if those parts can be replaced. 

For example, corrosion may appear on the heat exchanger, the part of the gas water heater that moves heat from combustion gas into the tank. Corrosion here is serious because it can create a gas leak, but it might not be affecting the rest of the water heater. The heat exchanger can be replaced and leave the rest of the system intact—although you’ll need to talk to the repair plumber about whether this is a cost-effective move. Corrosion appearing on some connectors can sometimes be repaired as well, although the plumber will need to inspect the rest of the water heater to find if the corrosion has set in elsewhere.

But Often, Yes

Water heaters are designed to resist rust for most of their service lives, with precautions like glass linings in the tanks and special anode rods that draw chemical reactions away from the rest of the water heater. When corrosion starts, it usually means that the water heater is so old these preventions are no longer enough. If the tank is corroded, it must be replaced before it starts to leak—and replacing the tank means replacing the water heater. 

Finding rusty discoloration in the hot water is often one of the biggest warnings that a water heater needs a replacement. If the discoloration isn’t due to sediment or dirt in the pipes (which will soon vanish), then it means the tank is already rusted heavily on the inside. Don’t hesitate to call for plumbers to examine the water heater and tell you what the next steps are. If the water heater is already over 20 years old, it’s in the range where you should already be thinking about a new one. 

Getting a water heater in Glendale, AZ is a good opportunity to upgrade to a better model, or even make the switch to a tankless water heater or a hybrid water heater. Ask our plumbers about the different options available to make your new water heater a fresh start for your home.

You can trust The Trusted Plumber. Schedule water heater services with us in Glendale, AZ and the surrounding areas.

This post first appeared on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *