Did you know that your water heater requires routine maintenance? If not, then you may be in for a costly surprise. A common source of water heater failures is sediment build-up, a problem that you can easily prevent with some necessary maintenance steps. Unfortunately, many homeowners wait too long and are shocked when their water heater fails several years earlier than expected. If you've been leaving your water heater to fend for itself, then learning a bit about the repairs you can potentially face may convince you to spend a little time on some annual TLC. Here are some things you should know about sediment buildup and water heater repair services.
What Is Sediment Build-Up?
This one isn't complicated: sediment build-up is precisely what it sounds like. As the water in your tank is heated, minerals contained within it separate out and remain in the tank. The presence of these minerals does not mean that anything is wrong with your water, however. Minerals are present in perfectly clean and healthy water, whether the source of that water is a municipal supply or a well on your property. Over time, these minerals collect along the bottom of your tank in an increasingly thick layer. In most cases, there is little that you can do to prevent sediment build-up from occurring.
The Effects Of Sediment
To understand why a layer of sediment is harmful, it's crucial to understand the design of a typical water heater tank. No matter the fuel that your tank uses, the heating element is located near the bottom of the tank. This design allows your tank to take advantage of cold water sinking and warm water rising. Water that hasn't yet been heated will fall to the bottom of the tank, where the heating element warms it up, while the warm water sits near the top. This design has many advantages, but it leaves your tank vulnerable to sediment. The layer of sediment that naturally forms at the bottom of your tank acts as insulation, preventing the transfer of heat to the water in the tank.
Repairing Sediment Damage
Under normal circumstances, sediment will not damage your tank. If you stick to a schedule of yearly draining, then sediment will rarely accumulate sufficiently to cause damage. Left unchecked, however, sediment can reduce the efficiency of your water heater and cause the heating element to overheat. When this happens, your water heater will seem exceptionally warm even though your hot water may be tepid or lukewarm. Long-term issues with overheating may result in damage to the heating element, forcing you to repair your water heater or even replace the entire unit.