Water heaters are essential to the smooth daily operation of modern homes. According to the Department of Energy, water heating is the second largest expense in the average U.S. household. In fact, the typical household can attribute 14-18% of the average monthly utility bill to water heating. Given the investment, it is important that your water heat functions as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, dents and similar types of structural damage can compromise the performance of your unit. A look at the best way to handle dents in your water heater can provide solid guidance on how to fix the issue before it disrupts the quality of life within your home.
What Causes Dents in the Water Heater?
Water heaters are pressure tanks composed of heavy-gauge steel. Standard or conventional tank-based water heaters typically operate by warming up water and storing it in a reservoir for household use. There are two types of dents that can occur with these water heaters: outer-layer dents or deep structural dents. Outer-layer dents refer to damage on the thin steel shell of the heater. Dings to the outermost shell of the heater can occur quite easily. The shell can get damaged during shipment and delivery, and it can also get dinged during initial setup. In addition, some homeowners may elect to install the water heater on its side for aesthetic purposes or due to spacing constraints. While an installer can set up your water heater horizontally upon request, the appliance can suffer from a few cosmetic dings along the way.
Deeper or structural water heater dents are far more serious. These dents may occur from accidents, unintended impact, or manufacturer defects. For example, any earthquake or natural disaster may damage your water heater. In most homes, water heaters are located near other sources of plumbing such as crawlspaces or utility rooms. Depending on the structure of your house, water heaters can also sit in nearby outbuildings. While appliances normally remain protected, these locations can subject the water heater to accidental impact like falls from heavy objects or tools stored in the same space. To protect your water heater, manufacturers usually include an insulation layer made of fiberglass. This insulation layer is located just beneath the outer steel shield of the water heater, and the purpose of this layer is to protect internal instruments and parts. However, any manufacturer defects can result in massive dents that can make the heater inoperable or leave the inner components vulnerable to further damage.
What Are the Negative Effects of Dents in the Water Heater?
Dents in the water heater can cause heat loss, water leaks, and even explosions. If you notice dents, it is important to reach out to a professional company to investigate the issue. A trained technician can help determine whether the damage is cosmetic and repairable or if it is more practical to install a new water heater instead.
The effectiveness of a standard water heater depends largely on its ability to retain and store heat. Unfortunately, dents can cause the water insulation to become cracked, compressed, or crushed. This insulation damage causes the water heater to experience higher than normal heating loss. The worse the dent, the more energy the unit will need to use to reheat water for distribution to your fixtures and faucets. Even then, standard water heater tanks have a limited supply of hot water. If your hot water runs out due to heating loss from dents, you will need to wait for the next heating cycle to finish to receive hot water again. This process is inconvenient and can disrupt daily activities from showering to laundering clothes.
Heating loss can also occur due to damage to the water heater thermostat. The water heater thermostat is normally located behind the insulation within an access panel. However, a dent near the access panel or thermostat can destroy the functionality of this important device. This causes temperature regulation problems within the water tank.
Dents near the connection between the water heater tank and the plumbing supply pipe can result in water leaks. For example, deep gouges near the supply pipes can cause the plastic cap that secures the tank connection to fall off, and the gradual water loss can lead to higher utility bills. When the pipes that supply water to water heaters leak, structural issues can develop on the tank interior and exterior right at the point of connection. Not only can this cause water damage to your property, but it can also cause the entire heating unit to fail.
One of the most dangerous consequences of a water heater dent is the increased potential for explosions. A water heater explosion can occur due to the pressure of a compressed or inverted shell. Water heater explosions can result in costly damage to your home, and these disasters put the safety of your entire family at risk. If you suspect your water heater may explode, it is important to seek professional help right away. Signs of a possible explosion may include the following:
- Loud banging or popping sounds from the water heater
- Hissing, whistling, or high-pitched squealing noises from the tank
- Sudden water leakage
- Shaking or overheating
- Unusual gas smells
If you notice any of the signs, shut off the water heater and contact a plumber immediately. Never put yourself in danger by attempting to fix this problem yourself.
Loss of Warranty
Another setback is that water heater dents can result in loss of warranty. If you notice structural damage to your appliance, it is important to report these defects to the manufacturer early in your ownership. Reporting these issues after your warranty has expired can cause you to lose coverage. In addition, any attempts to fix the dents yourself instead of contacting a professional can also render your warranty null and void.
How Can I Repair Dents in My Water Heater?
The first step in repairing dents in your water heater is to reach out to a trained professional. A professional can inspect the appliance and evaluate the size, location, and depth of dents. Following the evaluation, the professional can determine whether dents are repairable or if they have begun to affect internal components of the unit. For example, a professional may be able to fix dents that are shallower than 3.0 millimeters in depth. If the dent is merely cosmetic, the technician may also be able to use suction technology similar to methods used in paintless automotive dent repair to smooth the outer layer of your water heater tank. But if the dent is slightly more in-depth, the expert may need to use equipment like hooks, pliers, and or other handheld tools to repair the damage.
Dents that have crushed the underlying fiberglass insulation or impaired the functionality of water heater may require more extensive repairs. For example, a professional would need to inspect dents that are deeper than 4.0 millimeters for safety and efficiency problems. If your water heater is more than 10-15 years old, it may make more sense to replace the unit instead. Ask your technician about installing a tankless water heater. Also known as an on-demand or instantaneous water heater, this type of appliance warms up hot water only as needed and helps eliminate standby heating loss. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless water heaters are up to 34% more efficient than traditional devices.
Get Help Today
Dents in the water heater can lead to a number of performance and safety issues in the home. Fortunately, trained experts can help. BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair provides water heater services for homes in Las Vegas and surrounding areas. We offer water heater inspections and repairs, and we can also install new tankless water heaters. Other plumbing services include drain cleaning, leak detection, and drain repair. We can install water softeners and filters and handle any issues with your sewer or gas lines. Contact BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair today for all plumbing needs.