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Water Heater Floods: Why & How They Damage Your Foundation

When water heaters flood, they can be dangerous for not only your immediate safety, but for the structural integrity of your home.

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Whether from a plumbing failure or mother nature herself, a flooded home for any reason is an extremely costly and scary situation. Add in the mess of a burst hot water heater, and the stress piles on.  

Hot water heater floods can be extremely stressful for any homeowner. In addition to the costs of water damage restoration of the flooded area of your home, you’ll need to replace your heater, too. The average cost range of a water heater according to is from $225 to $960. 

Let’s dive into what causes a water heater to flood, and how you can spot this problem before it gets worse.  

What Causes A Hot Water Heater To Flood?  

When a hot water heater floods, it’s typically a result of too much pressure building up within the tank. This happens when:  

A Build-Up of Sediment Occurs  
During the heating process, the water in your unit will naturally create calcium and magnesium as a byproduct. Without routinely flushing your tank, these mineral deposits will build up at the bottom and on the sides of the chamber. Pockets of air will form along with the sediment and affect the air pressure within the tank. This can cause flooding if not addressed quickly. 

The Thermostat Malfunctions
One of the most common causes of water heater failure or explosion is a malfunctioning thermostat. The thermostat in a water heater helps regulate the temperature, to ensure the unit doesn’t overheat. When the unit overheats, the water boils and creates steam within the tank. This can raise the pressure within the tank to a dangerous level, threatening a flood within your home. 

Rust Corrodes the Tank 
Since water heaters are made from steel, they can be especially prone to rust. That’s why water heaters are built with an anode rod—a metal rod tasked with attracting all corrosion and rust. The functionality of it is described as “sacrificing” itself to ensure that the rest of the tank stays rust and corrosion free. When this malfunctions, rust will begin to corrode your tank, infecting the water and corrupting the safety mechanisms.



Signs That You May Have a Leaky Hot Water Heater  

Lack of Hot Water 

The main sign of a defective water heater is if your home isn’t getting adequate hot water. If you notice it’s taking an excessively long time for water to heat up, or you just aren’t getting any hot water at all, it’s a sign that you may need to replace your heater.   

Popping or Rumbling Noises 

Popping or rumbling noises are a sign that sediment has built up within your tank and may interfere with the heating process. If you hear popping, rumbling, creaking, or any unnatural sound from your unit, it’s likely on the edge of cracking or leaking.

Cloudy Water 

Brown, murky water is yet another sign that you may have sediment in your tank. You might see this coming out of the faucets around your house. You may even sense a metallic taste in your water as well as a result of the rust residue.   

Leaking or Faulty Pressure Relief Valve 

A pressure valve’s purpose is to ensure that the inside of your water heater does not become over-pressurized. It provides an auxiliary exit for some of the pressure to escape safely. When this leaks or malfunctions, it causes an imbalance in your water heater, putting it at risk of dangerous explosion and flooding.   

The Stench of Rotten Eggs or Gas 

If you recognize the smell of rotten eggs or gas, it may indicate a gas leak connected to your gas water heater. This may have been caused by a bad installation of your tank, or a damaged gas line. This is a potentially dangerous situation, as the pilot light on your water heater may cause a fire or explosion by igniting the gas from the leak. This may not be as much of a risk for electric water heaters. 

Puddling Tank Water 

The final and most obvious sign is seeing puddling or leaking around your water heater tank. The source of the leak can come from either the side or bottom of the unit. This may be visible through rust trails on the side of the tank, or a large puddle around the base of the tank.   

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your home, take proper safety precautions and call a plumber as soon as possible. You may be at risk of a water heater explosion. Worst case scenario, if water heaters explode and flood homes, they are known to cause severe injury and death.  While replacing a water heating unit can be pricey, it’s a necessary investment for your own safety and ultimate comfort within your home.   

How A Water Heater Flood Can Affect Your Foundation  

Water heaters are typically stored inside of the basement, garage, attic, or crawl space. When water heaters malfunction and flood your home, the water damage can have long-reaching effects on your home. Here are a few to look out for.   

  • Mold and Mildew
    Water damage can cause mold and mildew formation in the area of your home that flooded. You may notice a dark, puffy or hairy looking substance forming on floor joists, walls, or corners of the area that was flooded. Mold can also be spotted through its distinctive smell. It can also create a health risk for you and the other members of the household. 
  • Spreading Cracks 
    Excess water in or around your home can exacerbate existing foundation cracks in your garage’s concrete, foundation walls, or basement floor. As water creeps into the open cracks, it can cause the soil beneath your home to expand and contract, further aggravating your foundation and widening the crack.  
  • Leaning walls and sticking doors and windows 
    If your basement or crawl space floods, it can displace the soil in and around your foundation. This can cause advanced foundation settlement. Differential settlement is when parts of your foundation settle at different times. This creates cracks, and uneven floors and walls. You may not notice this unevenness at first. However, it can appear as doors that don’t close properly or windows that won’t shut.   

Fight the Effects of A Water Heater Flood With Innovative Basement Authority   

With expert services in mold cleaning, foundation repair, crawl space encapsulation and basement waterproofing, our goal is to restore your peace of mind after a water heater leak or flood.   

We’re proud to offer free inspections and no-obligation quotes, so you can feel confident booking us for superior services. Call Innovative Basement Authority to book your inspection today! 

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