How often do you actually think about your water heater? Maybe once a week when the shower isn’t heating up fast enough, or when you have to get something out of that neglected corner of your garage? You’re not alone – most people do not regularly think about the ways that your water heater can cause massive damage to, if not ruin parts of your home. It’s a fact that water heaters are one of the most-used appliances in your home, but chances are you won’t think about it until something goes wrong. Avoiding a catastrophe is an incredibly important part of home ownership, and as with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Anything from corrosion, to a faulty connection, to even a separate and unrelated water leak near your water heater can cause failure. Usually leaks sprout in the bottom of the water heater, which is where it sees the most use. Traditional water heaters use a small flame at the bottom of the tank to heat continuously cycling cool water, which rises as it heats and then pumps into your shower, sink, or bathtub. Because of the constant flame and temperature gradient, the bottom of your water heater can be worn down relatively quickly. Make sure to check for any cracks, corrosion, or even rust regularly to keep yourself free from leaks.
Common leaks on the actual tank can be hard to notice, so checking just the appliance may not be enough to properly prevent damage. Can you see the area surrounding your water tank fully? Are there any obstructions? If there is anything around your water heater, you’re putting your home at risk. Leaks can drip past the water heater and into floorboards, walls, or possessions and cause severe, lasting damage. Check the surrounding area regularly, and use more than one sense to get a feel for if everything is alright. Mold can grow in as little as 48 hours, so doing a touch test along with a sniff test on the surrounding walls and floor can prevent damage before it happens.
If your water heater has sprung a leak, the best thing you can do is call a professional immediately. Left unchecked, water heater leaks can ruin the foundation of your home, which is extraordinarily costly and time consuming to repair. Doing daily home checks of your water heater is crucial, but there’s no substitution for hiring a professional to make sure that everything is in top-notch working order.