Tankless water heaters are less prone to corrosion than traditional water heaters with a storage tank, but it can still happen, and living on the Florida coast can make it more likely.
How Salt Water Causes Oxidation
Corrosion occurs as metal is broken down by chemical processes, such as oxidation, in which the metal is exposed to oxygen in the air, forming corrosion on steel, copper, and other metals.
The presence of moisture and salt in the air of coastal areas only intensifies the process by introducing sodium ions that allow electrons to move freely. This accelerates the corrosion process, as do the high temperatures typical of Florida weather.
Can Tankless Water Heaters Rust?
Tankless water heaters can rust, though not quite as easily as those that have steel storage tanks. If not properly serviced and maintained, water can leak onto the burners of a tankless water heater, causing corrosion. As more rust builds up and starts flaking off, it can interfere with how well heat is transferred into the water.
Not only can this increase your utility bills, but it can affect how well the water heater works, causing inconsistent water temperature and flow. Corrosion can also eat away at the heat exchanger, leading to leaks. Tankless water heaters that are mounted outside and exposed to the salt air constantly are significantly more vulnerable to corrosion.
Signs Your Water Heater Is Corroded
If your water heater has started to corrode, it may not be obvious from the outside. You will have to look for more subtle signs of damage, such as:
- Discolored water: If your water has a red hue or is staining your sinks, there may be rust inside the water heater, connected pipes, or the heat exchanger.
- Temperature fluctuation: Ideally, a tankless water heater should provide hot water at a constant temperature. If your water is not hot enough or the temperature fluctuates, it can be a sign of corrosion.
- Leaks: Corrosion inside your water heater can lead to leaks, and if they are not addressed quickly, you could be dealing with costly water damage.
- Reduced water pressure or flow: If your water heater is not delivering the hot water you expect, there may be corrosion or a leak in the heat exchanger.
Do I Need To Replace a Corroded Water Heater?
Whether you will need a water heater replacement when corrosion is detected will depend on:
- The extent of the damage
- The age of the water heater
- Your water heater’s location
If the water heater is more than 10 years old or located outside, even in your garage, it will be more likely to have serious corrosion issues. If it’s less than a decade old and has no visible damage, it may be salvageable with a few repairs, especially if the damage is localized to easily replaceable parts like the heat exchanger or burners.
If there is heavy corrosion in the interior or the exterior, it’s best to replace the water heater.
How To Protect Your Tankless Water Heater From Corrosion
Here are a few ways you can protect your water heater from corrosion and extend its service life:
- Install your water heater indoors: It may not be possible in every home, but installing the water heater inside with proper venting will provide the best protection against salty air and corrosion.
- Build a protective cover: When an indoor installation is inconvenient, building a vented cover that protects the entire water heater is the next-best solution.
- Service your water heater annually: Preventative water heater maintenance can help to catch corrosion issues early and repair them before they affect the entire unit. Annual maintenance, including flushing the heat exchanger, is recommended for most tankless water heaters.
Choose UAT for Water Heater Services in Jacksonville
When you need a plumbing company you can count on to keep your water heater working properly, talk to our team at United Air Temp. We’ve been a leader in home comfort since 1931, and we offer water heater repairs, maintenance, and replacements for standard and tankless units.
Our team is committed to quality, and we will go above and beyond for our customers. We feature upfront pricing, special offers, and financing options on approved credit. Our technicians are highly trained to recommend the best solution for your water heater issues.
Need tankless water heater services? Schedule water heater repair, replacement, or maintenance in Jacksonville by calling [ site_info_phone_number] today.