Like the rest of the appliances in your home, your water heater will not last forever. Knowing the indicators of a failing water heater will allow you to replace it in advance before it breaks down or serious water damage occurs. Here are three signs that it may be time to replace your water heater.
Noise While Running Water
As the water in your water heater heats up, a sediment known as calcium carbonate is extracted from the water and settles at the bottom of the tank. This sand-like substance can damage your water heater in a few different ways as it builds up over the years. A thick layer of sediment in the bottom of the tank can prevent heat from transferring to the water effectively, causing the bottom of the tank to overheat and leak. Sediment also promotes the growth of bacteria that can corrode the tank.
If you have a potentially harmful amount of sediment in your tank, you may be able to hear it while you run hot water in your home. Sediment buildup often sounds like small gravels rattling inside the tank. While flushing your tank will remove sediment, it is a preventative measure and will not undo any damage that has already been done to the tank.
Leaking Around the Tank
Moisture or standing water on the floor around the base of your water heater should never be ignored. While the leak could be coming from several of the fittings that are connected to your heater, it is also possible that the tank itself is leaking. A tank leak is a problem that usually requires replacement rather than repair, as the high pressure inside of the tank will often cause leaks to resurface no matter how they are patched.
Water heater tank leaks can be difficult to detect because they may not be apparent while the heater is not in use. If the fittings around your heater are dry, you should turn on hot water and watch for leaks around the bottom of the tank. The metal of your tank will expand slightly while the heater is in use, possibly exposing cracks that are otherwise undetectable.
Rust-Colored Hot Water
There are a number of things that could cause the water from your faucets to look rusty. Unfortunately, the problem likely lies with your water heater if only your home's hot water is rusty. When your water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan, the sacrificial anode will fail and the tank will begin to rust. The anode is a metal rod inside of your tank that protects the tank from rust, but it is worn away in the process.
If the water from both the hot and cold sides of your faucets is rusty, it is possible that a temporary disturbance in your home's water supply is to blame. You will know your water heater is not the problem if your water becomes clear again in a day or so. Even if only the hot side is rusty, the rust may be located elsewhere in your home's plumbing if you have galvanized iron pipes. If you don't have experience with DIY plumbing projects, you can hire a plumber to locate the source of the rust.
Increasing Energy Bill
Even if you do not notice anything unusual about your home's water or your water heater, you may soon be due for a replacement. Water heaters will inevitably lose efficiency over the years due to mechanical wear, so you should keep a keen eye on your energy bill. If there has been a slow upward creep in cost with no apparent cause, you may want to hire a professional to analyze the efficiency of your water heater.
Detecting a failing water heater is not difficult if you are aware of the most common warning signs. Keep these tips in mind so you can replace your water heater before more costly damages occur. For more information, contact a plumbing company like Quality Plumbing.