As many adjusters know, water heater failure often leads to significant property damage. Water heaters have an average lifespan of 10–20 years, but that can be significantly reduced without proper routine maintenance—substantially increasing the risk of failure.

According to an IBHS study, 69% of all water heater failures result from a slow leak or a sudden burst. A residential water heater holds 20 to 80 gallons of water, which can cause significant water damage to property upon failure. On average, residential water heaters cost only $1,500 to replace, but a leaking or burst water heater typically tacks on over $3,000 in additional property damage, not including any additional living expenses that may be incurred. Adjusters need to handle these claims with care, as the exact cause of the damage may or may not be a loss covered by the policy.

Internal rust/corrosion

The most common reason for a leaking water heater, internal rust or corrosion, often results from a lack of routine maintenance. By periodically checking the water heater for any signs of rust and performing preventative maintenance, property owners can prolong the life of their water heater and greatly reduce the risk of premature failure. Two primary causes of tank rust or corrosion are failing to replace the sacrificial anode and allowing scale to build up.

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