Some questions – 5 year old Gas Water Heater with Rusty Wate

The Tank Some questions – 5 year old Gas Water Heater with Rusty Wate

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    I have an A.O. Smith gas water heater that’s about 5 years old. A few weeks ago I noticed the hot water having a red color to it. I flushed the water heater out a few times until the water was clear, but the hot water was still rusty the next day.

    A called a plumber, and after describing the symptoms, he said the glass lining is probably gone and the inside of the tank is rusting.

    I gave him the serial# and model of the water heater and he said it was still under warranty (6 year warranty), but he said A.O. Smith would not cover the replacement unless the tank was leaking.

    So I have a few questions:

    What is the lifespan of these water heaters? I had an Oil one before and the thing lasted decades. 5 years seems pretty short.

    The plumber said I could either pay for a new Water heater or wait the year out and maybe it would start leaking. This didn’t seem very logical to me, I don’t want to have a flood in my basement, plus I don’t want to shower in rusty water for a year. Is it safe to bathe in Rusty water?

    And do I risk a flood if I don’t do something now?

    Do all Water heater companies have the same warranty restrictions about rusty water? The A.O. Smith worked flawlessly until the rust.


    Randy Schuyler

    Just curious. Do you use a water softener?

    Usually, water heaters last at least through the warranty period of six years before exhibiting signs of failure, of which rusty water is one. Softeners can hasten their demise.

    But the plumber is partially right. You can’t make a warranty claim until the tank starts to leak. He’s wrong in saying the glass lining is gone. It has probably not gone anywhere, but the tank’s sacrificial anode may well be consumed. You can read more about that elsewhere on this site under Anodes.

    And you’re right, also: Waiting for it to flood your garage or basement isn’t a great idea.

    But it probably won’t harm you to bathe in slightly rusty water.

    I could tell you to just wait and see what happens, but my question about softening could be significant for you, so answer that one and maybe I can tell you a little more.

    Randy Schuyler


    A. O. Smith Water Heaters (the warrantor) will furnish the
    ORIGINAL OWNER, 1) a replacement A.O. Smith water
    heater of equivalent size and current model if the glass-lined
    tank in this water heater leaks and, 2) a replacement part for
    any component part which fails.

    I would call them and tell them the glass liner is leaking onto the tank causing dangers water conditions for your family. Be polite but firm but please make sure your rust source is not coming from failing supply nipples or your homes plumbing.

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