A hot water heater is one of those things that you don’t ever really think about until it doesn’t work right. Usually, they just operate in the background and you take it for granted that you’re going to get hot water when you need it.
Nothing is built to last forever so there will come a day when you will need to replace that water heater. Now, you can wait until it doesn’t work anymore and have a technician come and tell you the bad news. This will require you to wait a few days for the new one to be installed so you’ll be out of hot water in th meantime.
Instead of waiting for that dreaded moment, listen to what your water heater is telling you. There are almost always some signs that it is about to give out on you. Some of the signs just means it needs to be repaired, but others mean that it is about to die on you.
In this article, I will go over some of these signs so you aren’t without hot water in your kitchen sink, or shower.
1. Not enough hot water
When you seem to run out of hot water much faster than you used to then this is more than just annoying. It is also one of the signs that your heater is having problems.
As your water enters the heating tank, it can sometimes bring sediment with it. Older tanks can end up with quite a bit of this sediment which then displaces the water. The more sediment you have, the less water so this could be why the hot water doesn’t seem to last as long. If your tank has the ability to be flushed, then this may solve the problem once the sediment is removed.
If you are unsure of how to take care of this yourself, then call a technician to do your water heater repair.
If your water heater is old and removing the sediment hasn’t helped then it likely means that it is time to be replaced. If you like long hot showers then you may want to consider a tankless water heater since they don’t ever run out of hot water.
2. Rumbling noises
One of the signs that should definitely not be ignored is if there are strange noises coming from your water heater. It may be the case that this is your water heater’s last gasp and is ready to kick the bucket.
You may hear things like pops, clicks, hissing or even creaking. These are potential signs that you have some mineral build up on your heating element. If you know that you have hard water, then this is the most logical explanation. Changing the anode is usually going to solve the problem.
If you know that you have hard water, then try flushing out the system and see if that helps. There are products that will remove scale from the internal workings of your hot water heater and may get it back on track.
The noises could also mean that there is a leak in the system. Or, that they have pressure building up inside and nowhere for it to escape. Either one of those scenarios is a potential problem that could cost you more than just a new heater. You could also face damage to your basement or other area where you have your heater.
These are two cases when you want to replace the heater. If it is old then it is surely time. Remember that a hot water heater generally lasts around 12 years so if you are approaching that age or even surpassed it then keep this in mind when you’re hearing those noises.
3. Cloudy water
Over time, the inside of the tank will begin to corrode. The interior will rust and this will in turn color the water. If it starts to look cloudy and rusty in color then this is a sign that the tank is becoming corroded.
If your water has had a rusty color for a while then this may simply mean that you have iron in your water. Well water is usually rich in minerals so if you have one then this could be the issue. However, iron doesn’t suddenly appear so unless it has been an ongoing problem, then it is likely coming from your heater tank.
When the water is simply cloudy then this is likely due to hard water. Your water heater may be too far gone by the minerals that have built up, but if your heater is new then this is the time to invest in a water softener to protect it from future harm.
4. Signs of leaks
One of the worst things that you can see regarding your water heater is pools of water at its base. This means that you have a leak somewhere. Make sure you take a good look at the areas where the incoming water hooks up to the tank as it could simply be a fitting that isn’t tight enough. If there is no water coming from there, then you have a problem.
Leaks from the tank itself are hard to fix so you generally will need to replace the entire heater. And, if you see a leak, hear noises from the heater and have scalding hot water coming from it, then this is a very dangerous sign. It’s best to shut it off from the electrical supply and get yourself a new heater.
Hopefully you only see one or two of these signs and you can fix your water heater without it costing a fortune. Of course, if all of these signs are present then this does not bode well for the life of your water heater. It’s a good idea to get rid of it and get a more energy efficient one anyway. This will save you money and headaches in the long run.