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Is My Water Heater Broken? Here Are 5 Ways to Tell

Jul 2, 2020 | Blog

In most homes, having warm and running water available is essential for day-to-day living. From baths and showers to washing hands, cooking, doing the dishes, and laundry, the average person uses hot water up to 20 times per day. When this is multiplied by the number of people in a house, the demands on a water heater is brought into perspective.

Eventually, homeowners are going to begin seeing signs of inefficiencies or problems with their water heaters. When this happens, repairs may be possible, but replacement may be the best solution. While it is possible to extend the life of the water heater using annual maintenance, there is a good chance the system will have to be replaced around the eight-year mark. This means it is crucial for a homeowner to know the signs that indicate water heater replacement is needed.

Get to know the most common signs of issues with a water heater – regardless of make or model – here. Knowing what to look for is the best way to avoid more serious problems.

1. The Water Heater is Old

No appliance will last forever. This includes a home’s water heater. During its lifespan, residents are going to face a situation where a new water heater installation will be necessary. The biggest problem with this is that most people are not sure when their water heater expires. Not knowing this can lead to serious risks if the unit begins to act up due to old age.

Most makes and models of water heaters will last between eight and 10 years. While 10 years is the age when water heater replacement is highly recommended, the need to replace the unit may occur before this time or after. If the unit doesn’t show any symptoms of a problem, it is a good idea to replace it at the 10-year mark (from the manufacture date).

Some of the symptoms that indicate a new unit is needed include rusting, leaks, noises, and a failure to heat up the water. Also, note that not all units have a 10-year life expectancy. The main exception to this rule is that a gas unit will last for six to eight years.

2. Rusty Heater Inlet Valve or Water

While steel is the strongest material on earth, it does have a weakness – rust. If corrosion occurs on a steel surface, it will begin to spread and eat through the steel in certain areas. On water tanks and pipes that are made of steel, rust is a warning sign of an impending leak.

The issue for many is trying to figure out if the rust is coming from the water heater or the pipes that lead to the faucet. If rust is seen, it is a clear indication that water heater service from the professionals is needed.

If rusty water appears out of the faucets in the bathtub or sink, it likely means a rusty water heater. If there is rust near the water inlet or the pressure relief valve, rust has likely developed inside the tank. If tap water appears rusty, it may be an issue with the pipes.

3. Strange Sounds from the Water Heater

Are there strange sounds coming from the tank? As a water heater gets older, rumbling noises may develop and get louder and louder as the water in the tank heats up. In homes where large amounts of hot water are used, the issue is likely going to be even more obvious when more serious issues arise. If there is a strange or loud noise coming from the unit, it is probably because of sediment buildup. A good way to remedy this problem is by flushing the heater. If this does not work, then a new unit may need to be installed.

4. Leaks

As a water heater gets closer to the end of its useful life, there is a higher chance there will be water around the tank. If there is water, this usually means leaks are occurring. Based on where the unit is located in the home, a leak may result in serious property damage.

Leaks are usually caused by expansions in the metal tank. The expansions occur as time passes and as the inside body of the tank is exposed to multiple heating cycles per day. When a fracture forms, the gap will be slight enough to hold the water in; however, in more serious situations, this will not be the case. If the tank is idle, the water will not leak but when the metal expands during each heating system, small amounts of water will get through the gap.

 5. The Water Heater Doesn’t Heat the Water

Hot and warm water are vital necessities for any home. Without warm water, a person is unable to take a shower or wash their hands. They also will not be able to wash laundry or clean their dishes. Most people take warm water for granted and do not think about it unless it is not there. If the water heater isn’t doing its job of heating water, it’s possible the water heater is broken.

Some of the most common causes of the water not being hot include a thermostat that is not adjusted properly, a broken heating element, or a tank that is too small for the size of the house. The first two issues are easy to fix and do not require the unit to be replaced completely. However, if the third issue is the culprit, then a new water heater is likely the best solution.

Finding the Right Plumber Matters 

When your water heater is broken, it is imperative to take action right away. As more time passes, the problem will only get worse, cause more damage, and be more expensive to repair. To find the right repair service, get recommendations from others, and do a bit of research on the service providers in the local area. Being informed is the best way to ensure the desired results are achieved and that a water heater is repaired or replaced so that it is working properly and efficiently once again. 

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