Hot water heater failure is a common cause of losses in homes across the country. In fact, we’ve seen an increase in insurance claims due to hot water heater failure over the past few months. Whether it’s from aging pipes or inadequate care, water heater failure can cause significant damage that not only requires expensive repair work, but also has an emotional burden for those affected by loss of use or even worse—their valuables. In this blog post, we’ll dive into what’s driving this trend and outline how proactive maintenance measures can help minimize damage and reduce the risk of costly repairs or replacements if a hot water heater does fail.
Things to Know About Water Heater Maintenance and Failure
Water heater failure can indeed lead to significant insurance losses, often resulting in extensive damage to personal property and the affected area. Here are some things to be aware of when it comes to water heater lifespan and maintenance:
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of a conventional tank-style water heater typically ranges from 8 to 12 years. However, factors such as maintenance, water quality, and usage patterns can influence the actual lifespan.
- Maintenance and inspection: Regular maintenance and periodic inspections are crucial for water heater longevity and early detection of potential issues. Manufacturers generally recommend an annual inspection by a qualified professional to check for any signs of wear, corrosion, or leaks.
- Failure modes: Water heaters can fail in various ways, often leading to leaks and flooding. Common failure modes include:
- Tank leaks: Over time, the tank may develop leaks due to corrosion or deterioration of the inner lining. These leaks can result in significant water damage if not addressed promptly.
- Pressure relief valve failure: The pressure relief valve on a water heater is designed to release excess pressure. If the valve malfunctions or becomes blocked, it can lead to excessive pressure buildup and potential tank failure.
- Sediment buildup: Sediments, such as minerals and debris, can accumulate at the bottom of the tank over time. This sediment buildup can cause overheating, reduced efficiency, and ultimately lead to tank failure.
- Flood damage: When a water heater fails, it can release a large volume of water, often flooding the surrounding area. Basements are particularly susceptible to significant damage due to the extensive coverage of personal property, flooring, carpet, drywall, and baseboards. The water damage can also result in mold growth if not addressed promptly and properly.
To mitigate the risk of water heater failures and resulting losses, it is essential to:
- Follow manufacturer guidelines for maintenance and inspections.
- Drain and flush the tank periodically to remove sediment buildup.
- Consider installing a drain pan with a connected drain line to capture any leaks and direct the water away from the surrounding area.
- Install an automatic shut-off valve or leak detection system to detect and stop water flow in case of a failure.
Regular maintenance, proactive inspections, and prompt addressing of any issues can help reduce the likelihood of water heater failures and minimize the associated insurance losses.
Recent Water Heater Project in Owings Mills, MD
Recently, we had the opportunity to perform a hot water heater repair job for a client. Unfortunately, the client’s hot water heater burst in their basement and caused flooding in their family room. As a result, the walls, baseboards, and carpets were completely saturated with water. A plumber was able to drain the water heater and replace it, but our team was called to perform both water mitigation and rebuild repairs. For the water mitigation, we extracted all the water from the floors and removed the water-damaged baseboards and carpet. For the rebuild repairs, we installed the new baseboards and painted them, as well as painted all the walls, and installed new carpet. Our team was happy to help this family get back to their normal routine as quickly and efficiently as possible.