Water Heater Horror Stories from W.H.O.

As we enter the season of ghosts and goblins, we thought it was a good time to share some of our scariest water heater horror stories. While it’s true that we have seen just about everything in our 50+ years of being in business, we do occasionally run across a situation that even scares us. So with that in mind, here is a glimpse at some of the things that keep us up at night.

One of our technicians in Los Angeles came across this water heater and we just couldn’t believe how corroded and rusty it had gotten. Of course, we weren’t there to repair it as it clearly needed to be replaced; however, while the photo above is obviously an extreme example of water damage, the fact is that an undetected leak can cause some serious damage. If it is located in an inside closet without a drain pan, the leaking water could seriously damage not only the floor but the wall of the closet and even things that are underneath the closet such as a bedroom or another apartment.

Then there is the damage to the water heater, which includes rust on the body and parts of the water heater as well as the burner assembly and parts on the inside of the water heater dependent on where the leak is located. Again, the above picture shows an extreme example, but all of that rust is due to a water leak that likely wasn’t discovered for a long time.

Quick Quiz

The above water heater was also originally installed with many safety violations. Can you see 3 things that are missing or unsafe? (see the bottom of this article for answers)

Oh the things we have seen!

As we continue our journey into our real-life water heater horror stories, it’s time to take a look at what terror can result underneath the water heater if a leak is left undetected and unfixed.

The above photos are from an actual job site in the Bay Area. This is another result of an undiscovered leak, though typically it is just mold on the water heater stand or the wall behind the water heater. So no, we don’t usually see fungus growing, but that is something that can happen as shown by the pictures above. Once mold is discovered, the cost of repairing and restoring the affected area will likely increase and the time it will take to get your new water heater installed could be longer as well.

Rodents, roaches and more!

Often when we get a call to repair a water heater, the issue is usually a pilot assembly or gas control valve that needs to be replaced, but once in a while the reason for the malfunctioning water heater is a critter infestation. Mice and cockroaches are the worst offenders as they are small enough to get into not only the burner assembly but also the vent as well. They make their nests in the burner assembly area and leave droppings and basically can just cause all kinds of problems for your water heater if they aren’t dealt with immediately. The best bet is to have an exterminator come out and handle the problem before it gets worse. And it can indeed get worse as one of our technicians had a truly horrific experience at a job in the Bay Area. The water heater that he was called out to inspect was located in a basement and when he went down there he was overwhelmed by the stench of the mouse droppings that had been accumulating over the years. He literally had to walk away from the job until a professional exterminator and cleaning crew were both brought in the take care of the mess. He later joked that we should be handing out Hazmat suits for those types of jobs!

Of course, cockroaches can get into areas on a water heater that even mice can’t get into and that can cause even more trouble. In the above video, you can see individual cockroaches come crawling out of various nooks and crannies near the water heater and that situation caused us to recommend an exterminator come out  before we could do any work.

But the above video just shows a couple of cockroaches whereas one of our technicians in LA County has a far scarier interaction with roaches. As he was trying to diagnose the problem with the water heater, he looked inside the vent and literally watched as hundreds of cockroaches poured out of the vent and the burner chamber of the water heater. I don’t care who you are, that’s scary!

We hope you have enjoyed hearing about just a few of our water heater horror stories. While these may be extreme examples, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen on a less severe level. We encourage you to check your water heater once in a while. Make sure you look for signs of a leak whether it’s on top or at the bottom of the water heater. Also, make sure to check for signs of rodents or bugs such as cockroaches and be sure to keep the area around your water heater free from debris or any foodstuff that might attract those roaches and mice. Rodents especially like water heaters, because of the heat they put off.

If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment to have one of our water heater technicians come and take a look at your water heater, give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-866-WHO-QUICK (1-866-946-7842) to speak to a water heater specialist today.


Answers to the Quick Quiz rusty unsafe water heater installation above.

  • Missing earthquake strapping and bracing.
  • There is no temperature pressure relief line connected to the temperature pressure valve.
  • Missing a flue vent / chimney.

6 comments to “Water Heater Horror Stories from W.H.O.”

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    • Thank you for your comment. Right! These are some of the worst situations we have been called to. It’s amazing how much water damage can occur if it’s left to it’s own devices.

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