In the image above, it is difficult to see the problem if you aren’t a plumber. This water heater has rust damage located at the bottom, which caused a large separation of the lining, creating the leak. If your water heater is showing signs of rust on the exterior, it is probably because the anode rod has met its life’s end long ago and the inside has already rusted out. Your best option would be to replace the water heater to avoid having an emergency water heater replacement, water damage and possibly mold.
Every traditional tank style water heater is made with sacrificial anode rods. They are long rods placed in the center of the tank, and usually made of magnesium or aluminum. The higher grade anode rods with longer life span is made from aluminum/zinc alloy. Anode rods sacrifice themselves by allowing scale and other harsh minerals to deteriorate it, opposed to the lining of the water heater. The lifespan of the anode rod varies largely on how hard the water is in your area. We know that our water in Phoenix is rather hard so we highly encourage everyone to inspect their water heater for any signs of rust. If you happen to spot some rust, give Qualtire Plumbing & Construction a call and we’ll be able to drain your water heater, thoroughly diagnose the unit and all the crucial parts.