When it comes to household appliances, your water heater often flies under the radar – quietly working behind the scenes to provide hot water for your daily needs. But the experts at Affordable Service HVAC and Plumbing know that lurking within your water heater lies a potential threat that wreaks havoc on your plumbing system’s copper pipes: sediment buildup. It’s especially a concern in the Rio Rancho and Bernalillo area, where our water tends to have a lot of mineral content, also known as “hard water”.

What is Water Heater Sediment?

Over time, minerals and debris present in your water supply can settle at the bottom of your water heater tank, forming sediment. This sediment primarily consists of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and other impurities that accumulate as water is heated and cooled repeatedly. While sediment buildup is a natural occurrence, it can lead to a host of problems if left unchecked.

The Dangers of Sediment Buildup

You may be wondering, “What’s the big deal about a little sediment?” Well, let’s dive into the potential consequences:

Reduced Efficiency: Sediment acts as a barrier between the heating element or burner and the water in the tank. This insulation impedes the transfer of heat, forcing your water heater to work harder and consume more energy to maintain the desired temperature. As a result, you may notice higher energy bills and decreased overall efficiency.

Decreased Lifespan: The strain caused by sediment buildup can put undue stress on your water heater’s components, leading to premature wear and tear. Over time, this can result in mechanical failures, leaks, and the need for costly repairs or even replacement.

Corrosion and Rust: Sediment trapped at the bottom of the tank creates a breeding ground for bacteria and accelerates the corrosion of the tank itself. Rust and corrosion weaken the integrity of the tank, increasing the risk of leaks and water damage to your home.

Damaged Copper Pipes: Perhaps the most insidious consequence of sediment buildup is its potential to clog and/or decay your plumbing pipes. As sediment accumulates within the tank, it can break loose and travel through your plumbing system, causing blockages and restricting water flow. This can lead to reduced water pressure, uneven heating, and eventually, pipe damage.

Sediment particles carried by the hard water can act as abrasives which can scour the interior of the walls of your copper pipe as they flow through. This abrasion gradually wears down the inner layer of the copper pipe. Additionally, the minerals present in the sediment can react with the copper, causing tiny pits or pinholes in your copper pipes. Sediment particles can then actually accelerate the decay process by settling in the pits, leading to major leaks underneath your home.

Preventing and Addressing Sediment Buildup

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the effects of water heater sediment:

Regular Maintenance: Contact Affordable Service HVAC and Plumbing and schedule annual maintenance checks for your water heater to flush out sediment and ensure optimal performance. Our experienced plumbers can inspect your water heater, drain the tank, and remove any accumulated sediment.

Install a Water Softener: If your water supply is particularly hard or prone to mineral buildup, consider installing a water softener to reduce the concentration of minerals in your water. This can help prevent sediment accumulation in your water heater and prolong its lifespan.

Consider a Tankless Water Heater: Tankless water heaters heat water on demand, eliminating the need for a storage tank where sediment can accumulate. While tankless units may require a higher upfront investment, they offer energy savings and reduced maintenance in the long run.

Don’t Wait Until There’s a Plumbing Emergency

Don’t wait until sediment buildup wreaks havoc on your plumbing system – take proactive steps to address the issue today. If you do have an after hours issue with your water heater, know that our team of plumbers is available 24/7 for emergency plumbing calls. By understanding the dangers of water heater sediment and implementing preventive measures, you can safeguard your home and extend the lifespan of your water heater. Contact the experts at Affordable Service HVAC and Plumbing today. We’ve served the Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Corrales and surrounding area since 1986. Remember, a little maintenance now can save you from costly repairs down the road but we’ll be here to help whenever it’s time to replace your water heater.