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Corrosion at the water heater burner


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Hi Jodi,

That's the interior of the flue pipe sloughing off in the center of the water heater. When you remove the puff shield a whole lot of extra air enters that area and affects the flame, so the color doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot. When you put the puff shield back on, if the burners are clean of debris the flame will probably go blue again. However, the crud can clog the jets and you should look to see whether any jets are clogged and aren't producing a flame. If any are clogged, recommend they get the thing turned off, vacuumed out and then relit.

When I see water heaters sloughing off like that I make clients understand that a water heater around here has an expected service life of only about 10 to 15 years before it begins to leak. I point out that, even if they use a shop vac to clean all of that crud out of there, eventually the rust will get so bad that a leak will develop, so they should start planning for replacement in the near term and not be surprised if the thing failed tomorrow - or even when I'm backing out of the driveway, since there's no way to predict when it will fail.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I give my opinion that the water heater has an extreme amount of rust for a 10 year old unit and life expectancy may be at its limit prematurely. You should have a plumber perform a thorough evaluation of not only the water heater but its flue as well. The unit may well last for years but could fail before your home is closed on. The evaluation by a plumber should be done for repairs/replacement cost.

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I have done a few inspections for a salesman at at plumbing supply place.

He told me that most of the water heater malefactors where making the water heaters to last only 10 years so they can have more sales.

This is from a 8 year old WH.

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