How Sediment Buildup Affects Your Water Heater

One of the top things that will destroy your traditional water heater is sediment buildup. This is especially true if you have hard water. Over time, sediment can cause your water heater to function poorly and cost you money. However, even if you have hard water, you can reduce sediment buildup and its effects on your water heater. Here are some of the signs of sediment buildup and how to reduce its problems.

How Does Sediment Form in Water Heaters?

Certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, form deposits when the water is heated. These sediments usually settle on the bottom of the water heater. This is a natural process, and most water heaters are designed to handle it in small amounts. Many water heaters have self-cleaning sediment filters to keep sediment levels low.

What Are the Signs of Too Much Sediment Buildup?

If sediment builds up too much, then you will notice a difference in your hot water. The water may not heat up all the way or it might take a long time to heat up. You may also notice a weaker hot water flow or no flow at all on the hot side. Additionally, too much sediment makes your water heater work too hard, and this causes a rise in your electric bill. The water heater may also make unusual popping or rumbling noises.

How Are Water Heaters Damaged by Sediment?

Excessive sediment buildup severely shortens your water heater's life. Too much sediment can cause heating element failure. It also creates hot spots that weaken your water heater's exterior. This puts it at risk for leaking or bursting. If the sediment moves through your water system, it could cause blockages and leaks in your pipes.

What Actions Reduce Sediment Buildup?

The best way to reduce sediment buildup is through regular maintenance. This involves draining and refilling the water heater until the water comes out clear. While this can be done yourself, it's best to consult a professional. Draining the water involves multiple steps to prevent damage to other parts. Also, make sure your water heater maintains a safe, stable temperature. Hotter temperatures usually mean more minerals and more sediment.

Though hard water causes sediment to build up faster in water heaters, don't assume that a water softener will solve all of your problems. Water softeners can help with sediment buildup, but contribute to other water heater issues. Therefore, if you need water heater repairs or if you plan to make changes to your water system, contact a plumber for help and advice.