Rust in Burner – Bad Sign?

The Tank Rust in Burner – Bad Sign?

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  • #24781
    cbass
    Participant

    When I took out the burner I noticed rust. Is rust in the burner the same as rust in the tank or is the burner area separate from the tank? Basically, with the rust seen here is it time to consider replacing the water heater? It isn’t leaking yet, but does rust in the burner mean the tank is rusting or are they separate? The anode rod was replaced on this heater, but late in its life. By then the anode rod material was gone and only the wire remained.

    #24782
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    How long ago was the anode replaced? And when did you take the picture? This is not a great combustion chamber roof, but it’s a long way from the worst I’ve ever seen.

    There are several ways to figure this. A bare wire is bad news, but a new anode could make a tank last a year or three. You’d have to check it from time to time and then decide which is cheaper or easier — to just replace the heater or keep putting in anodes.

    Also, there is the question of what will happen if the tank breaks. If the garage just gets a little wet, then your gamble has fewer consequences. If the heater is where it could flood the house (or a finished basement), then you have to consider that, too.

    Randy Schuyler

    #24783
    cbass
    Participant

    The anode was replaced Feb 2017. At the time the water heater was 11 years old. Picture is recent. Now the water heater is 14 years old. It has a bad gas valve or controller. The pilot will light but not stay on. Thermocouple tested fine as did the thermal switch. Also, there is a dribble coming from the pressure relief valve. I am looking at either buying a new controller and relief and fixing this heater or at this point just buying a new one.

    It’s in the garage so shouldn’t cause too much damage. However, if the rusty burner also means the tank is probably rusting, then instead of putting the work and parts into it I am just going to buy a new heater.

    I am curious if rusting in the burner is part of the normal aging process or if it indicates other issues.

    #24784
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    That may tip the scale toward replacement. If I pulled an anode and it was bare wire, I’d want to check the replacement every year. The thicker the anode, the better, but still, it would be certain the new one would get used up faster than the old one. If these rust and water stains have occurred since the anode replacement, that would be a concern, but only you will know that. Price the cost of a controller and new anode vs. new tank and decide on that. Replacing a dribbling T&P is a small matter, but must be done if you stay with this tank.

    Randy Schuyler

    #24785
    cbass
    Participant

    Thank you for the input. The relief valve is not as simple on my water heater. It is attached to a soldered pipe that goes to the outside of the house so I would need to cut the pipe. I replaced the water heater instead of servicing it. The anode rod was almost gone since I last replaced it. However, there was no rust I could see inside the tank. I looked inside using one of those probe camera’s. There were some calcium deposits though. It did allow me to address some issues. The old water heater was only using a single wall vent when it should be using a double wall vent. I also added a sediment trap in the gas line which did not exist previously.

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