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Our hot water heater is just over a year old. I am sure it is under warranty, but I'd like to get ideas why this happened. It is currently dry, but you tell water was leaking. We didn't notice this because the heater is behind a screwed in piece of drywall.

We are on a well. enter image description here

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    It looks like a leak at the connection. It could be water condensing on the pipe if this is in a humid room. – Ed Beal Feb 9 '17 at 23:21
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    I have had some very slow leaks (which I would call seeps) seal with time. This has occurred both with threaded connections and sweated joints. When seeps with threaded connections sealed I had used pipe dope not teflon tape. AFIK when there is a leak in a threaded connection sealed with teflon tape it continues indefinitely. The relevancy here is that your threaded joints might have sealed. I would not redo them until you verify that they are still leaking. – Jim Stewart Feb 10 '17 at 12:51
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That kind of corrosion on a one-year-old tank? WOW. Like Ed Beal noted, it looks like a leak at the connection. The installer likely did a poor job of taping the connection (with teflon tape) or failed to tighten it adequately.

However, the excessive rust is curious...I suspect that your well water is rather salty. When salty water evaporates from a surface, it leaves behind salts which contribute to rusting on metal surfaces by attracting moisture from humid air. It doesn't take a lot of salt to do this. Just the thinnest film is enough to constantly keep it somewhat wet enough such that underlying metal can be constantly corroded. I suggest tightening the union, scraping off the rust, and painting over with a water-based sealing compound. And take that sheetrock cover off!

  • Well (no pun intended), we live near the ocean so it could very well be salty. This is one of many issues we are dealing with in our new house. – DDiVita Feb 10 '17 at 0:56
  • Your local water resources board may have groundwater quality maps that detail the encroachment of saltwater into community groundwater supplies over time. This happens when there is excessive groundwater demand and insufficient fresh water recharge. Getting your water tested will also help you figure out what treatment options are best. Good luck! – Knob Scratcher Feb 10 '17 at 5:34

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