The lifespan of your water heater depends on several variables. One common cause of water heater malfunction is corrosion. Learn what causes corrosion, and what components you should be inspecting on a regular basis to prevent early deterioration.

Corrosion typically occurs in these heater components: 

  • Electrical Elements
  • Combustion Chambers
  • Anodes
  • Vent pipes


Electrical heaters can have problems with galvanic corrosion. This occurs when the two heating elements in the heater get wet – the inner steel and outer copper.

In gas heaters, the combustion chambers can develop rust. This poses an immediate threat because it could lead to a carbon monoxide leak.

To prevent corrosion, regularly check your heater’s combustion chambers for rust. If your home uses a water softening system, the salt in that system can corrode your anodes. For this reason, you should have the anodes inspected by a qualified technician as part of yearly maintenance. To prevent galvanic corrosion, try changing your pipe fittings from metal to plastic. The fittings (also called pipe nipples) should be placed where the water lines come out from the wall and also at the point that they connect to the tank. A combination of regular inspections and preventative measures can keep your heater from rusting or corroding.

Contact Comfort Systems HVAC and Plumbing Services for more information on water heater repair or corrosion.