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Hot Water Heater Failure and Leaks

Hot Water Heater Failure and Leaks

Here are several reasons why a hot water heater is more likely to break down when the weather gets warmer, and what can be done to prevent and treat hot water heater leaks and failures.

Increased Usage

Warm weather often means more outdoor activities, which can lead to more laundry, showering and bathing. People also switch to lighter, more breathable fabrics in spring and summer, which may need to be washed more often. Outdoor gatherings and barbecues are more common in warm weather, which means more dishwashing. The increased usage of hot water in warm weather can put more strain on a hot water heater, potentially causing it to break down more frequently if it's not properly maintained.

Mineral Buildup

Ground water is warmer during warm weather than cold weather, and warmer water can dissolve minerals more easily than cold water. This speeds up the chemical reaction that causes minerals to solidify and adhere to the surfaces of the hot water heater. The resulting "scale" or "sediment" reduces the hot water heater's efficiency and lifespan. However, if the water source has a high mineral content, the problem of mineral buildup can be severe regardless of the water temperature. The minerals can accumulate over time and reduce the efficiency of the hot water heater, leading to higher energy bills and potentially causing the system to break down.

To help prevent mineral buildup in a hot water heater, it's important to have the unit regularly maintained, as well as flushed by a hot water heater contractor every 6 months to remove any accumulated scale or sediment. Installing a water softener or other water treatment system can also help reduce the amount of minerals in the water and minimize the risk of buildup.

Expansion and Contraction

Hot water heaters are designed to expand and contract as they heat and cool. Warmer water can create expansion and pressure in a hot water heater, and with the surrounding air temperature outside the water heater also being higher, this can cause even more expansion. The repeated expansion and contraction can cause the hot water heater to weaken and eventually break down.

To help prevent damage from expansion and contraction, it's important that the hot water heater is accurately sized for the needs of the household and has been installed correctly and properly maintained. The temperature of the water in the tank should be set to a safe and efficient level, and the pressure relief valve (a safety feature that prevents the pressure from becoming too high) should be checked regularly by a hot water heater professional to ensure that it is functioning properly.

How Water Heater Flood Guards Can Help

A hot water heater flood guard should be installed on the water heater to help prevent water damage in the event of a malfunction that causes a leak. A floor guard shuts off the water supply to the hot water heater if it detects water on the floor or in the drip pan underneath the unit.

Hot water heater flood guards are typically installed on the cold water supply line that feeds the hot water heater. They use sensors or float switches to detect the presence of water and trigger a valve that shuts off the water supply. Some models also include an alarm that alerts homeowners to the presence of water and can help prevent water damage from occurring.

Hot water heater flood guards are particularly useful in homes where the hot water heater is located in an area that could be damaged by water, such as a basement or utility room. They can help prevent expensive repairs and insurance claims by stopping water damage before it has a chance to spread.

It is important to ensure that the flood guard is installed properly and tested regularly to ensure that it is functioning correctly. This is something that a hot water heater contractor can do during routine maintenance.

What To Do If a Water Heater Fails or Leaks

If your hot water heater fails and/or leaks, it's time to call a hot water heater contractor right away. These professionals are trained to handle hot water heater leaks quickly, safely and efficiently by identifying the source of the leak, assessing the damage, repairing or replacing the unit (depending on its age and severity of damage), and testing the system when done.


Hot water heaters may break down more often in warm weather than in cold weather, so it's especially important in spring and summer to ensure that your hot water heater is working properly and being maintained by a water heater professional.

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