The last thing you want on a cold morning is to step into a hot shower only to realize the spray you’re standing under is ice cold. The water heater often goes unnoticed until something horrible (like said ice cold shower) happens, but it won’t go from working just fine to kaput over night.
Pay close attention to the signs and signals your water heater is giving off and you can cut warm water problems off at the pass.
It Runs Rust Coloured Water
Rusty water can be a sign that your water heater will need replacing soon. If you find rusty water coming from your water heater, and only from the piping on the hot side, this can be a sign that the heater is rusting on the inside and may leak soon.
If you have galvanized pipes, the rust may be from the pipes. Here’s a test to avoid replacing a functioning water heater – drain a few five-gallon buckets of hot water out of the water heater. If by the third bucket the water is still running rusty, then it’s most likely the water heater and not the piping that’s at fault.
It’s Making Strange Sounds
As a water heater ages, sediment from the water builds up on the bottom of the tank. Repeated heating of this sentiment will cause it to eventually harden, which may be the source of the rumbling or banging your hearing as the water heater heats up.
Flushing your tank may be enough to solve this problem, but over time this layer of hardened sediment will cause your water heater to use more gas or electricity to heat the water. This also can cause more wear and tear on the tank, which can make the metal brittle and prone to cracking and developing tiny holes (which leads to leaks).
Your water heater may also make strange noises if the heating element is burning out. If you have flushed the tank and removed sediment but are still hearing uncommon noises, it may be time to replace the heating element.
There Is Water Around The Heater
Any moisture or water around your heater may indicate a small leak or fracture in your water heater tank. As metal heats it expands, and if there are slight fractures, water may leak from the tank. Once the metal has cooled the inner tank will stop leaking.
This may not be the only source of leaks however – check fittings and connections to the tank and the temperature/pressure overflow pipe. If all the connections and fittings are dry, it may be time to replace your water heater.
The Temperature Is Inconsistent
When your water is too hot, or doesn’t get hot enough, the simplest fix is to adjust the thermostat on your unit. But when there is no hot water coming from your tank, this could signal a broken heating element or gas thermocouple (in natural gas-powered units). The good news is you won’t have to replace the whole unit, just the components, to restore your hot water supply right away.
If you’re living in a home with an ageing water heater, even one that has been carefully and well maintained over the course of its life, common problems could be an indication that it is time to replace it. A hot water heater that is more than 15 or 20 years old and is making strange noises, not producing hot water or not producing hot water consistently, and unable to maintain a constant water temperature, has probably reached the end of its useful life.
Most residential water heaters come with a 5- to 10-year warranty, so a new water heater should last at least that long, and longer if the proper care and maintenance measures are taken.
If you notice any or all of the above problems affecting your water heater, give us a call. At Haye’s Plumbing, we offer fast, safe and efficient replacement of faulty electric water heaters in Oshawa and the surrounding areas.