Is It Safe To Use Rusty Water Heater?

Is It Safe To Use Rusty Water Heater

Getting a warm shower after a long, hectic day is bliss. But have you ever paid attention to your water heater, which helps you relax and get rid of all the stresses of the day? We often miss doing so. 

That negligence has led to various issues with the water heater, which have invaluable effects. One such issue is a rusty water heater. Now, you’ll be wondering how Rust invades your water heater and whether it is safe to use rusty hot water.

Rust build-up in water heaters is caused by a combination of factors, from mineral-rich water, which gradually corrodes the heater’s metal surfaces, to the metal’s inherent susceptibility to corrode due to prolonged exposure to heat, pressure, and chemical reactions.

How about safety? Rust, from minor to significant, poses a threat to health risks, including the increase in lead content in rusty hot water. While safe for external use, rusty hot water, consumed by mistake, has serious health effects.

This blog will take you deep into the rusty water heaters, is it safe to use, and more.

What Does a Rusty Water Heater Tell You?

Rust in Tank Interior: 

Rust in the hot water heater tank is a significant concern, indicating that corrosion has already started eating away the metal inside the tank. Such water heater corrosion leads to leaks or even rupture. Moreover, it’s a clear sign that your water heater is in trouble and may need to be replaced soon.

Rust in Water Heater Tank Exterior: 

Rust on the outside of the tank signifies potential water heater corrosion, especially increasing the metal’s vulnerability to corrode. While exterior rust might not immediately affect the heater’s performance, it’s a warning sign that you should have a keen eye on it and take preventive measures.

Rust in Water Outlets: 

If you notice rust in the faucets or showerheads, the water heater is deteriorating internally, and contaminants are mixing with your water supply. More than an unpleasant look, it indicates a potential health hazard that needs to be addressed promptly.

Rusty Pressure Relief Valve: 

The pressure relief valve is a crucial safety feature on water heaters. If you notice rust on this valve, it could mean that corrosion has reached critical components of the heater’s plumbing system. 

This is a serious issue because a faulty pressure relief valve can lead to dangerous pressure build-up inside the tank, increasing the risk of explosion. If you see rust on the pressure relief valve, it’s essential to have it inspected and possibly replaced by a professional plumber immediately.

Rust on Top Of Water Heater: 

Rust on the water heater’s top indicates a potential issue with the anode rod inside the tank. The anode rod is designed to attract corrosive elements and protect the tank from rusting and corrosion. If you notice rust on the top of the water heater, it could mean that the anode rod is depleted and failing to do its job effectively.

Such depletion of the anode rod leaves the tank vulnerable to corrosion, potentially leading to leaks or other issues. Replacing the anode rod as part of routine maintenance can help prevent further rusting and prolong the water heater’s life.

Rust on the Bottom Of the Water Heater:

Water heater rust on the bottom is a more serious problem, indicating the corrosion of the tank itself; the weak and rusted metal leads to leaks or even tank failure. The bottom of the tank is particularly prone to rust because water and sediment collect there, creating an environment conducive to corrosion.

If you observe rust on the bottom of the water heater, it’s essential to have it inspected by a professional plumber as soon as possible. Depending on the extent of the rust and the age of the water heater, it may need to be repaired or replaced to prevent further damage and ensure safe operation.

Is It Safe To Use Rusty Water Heater?

The safety of a rusty water heater depends on the extent of the rust and the specific components affected. 

  • Minor Surface Rust: If you notice only minor surface rust on non-critical parts of the water heater, such as the exterior or around fittings, it’s generally not a safety concern. Surface rust can often be addressed with simple cleaning and painting to prevent further corrosion.
  • Interior Tank Rust: Rust in a hot water heater tank is a more severe issue. If corrosion has penetrated the tank’s lining, it can weaken the metal and lead to leaks or tank failure. While small amounts of rust inside the tank might not immediately affect safety, monitoring the situation closely and promptly addressing any deterioration to prevent potential hazards is crucial.
  • Rust in Water: Rusty water from faucets or showerheads indicates that corrosion occurs within the water heater or the plumbing system. While rusty water isn’t typically harmful to health, over time, it increases the lead content in rusty water, which is detrimental to health. Moreover, it’s a sign of deteriorating components and can affect water quality. Continued use of a water heater with internal rust may increase the risk of leaks or other safety issues.
  • Safety Features: Critical safety features, such as the pressure relief valve, must remain functional and free from rust. A rusty pressure relief valve could fail to operate correctly in an emergency, leading to dangerous pressure buildup inside the tank.

Pay close attention to your water heater to promptly address any minor rust issues and prevent a rusty water heater. 

If you are looking for a professional plumber who can do water heater repair or replace based on its condition, consider Spot-On. Our licensed technicians, with in-depth knowledge and experience, will solve all your problems.