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Your water heater does a lot of work for the house, and trust us when we say, you will notice when it fails. Anything that impacts your ability to have a hot shower feels urgent. It can be quite a headache to get a water heater repaired on short notice, so it’s helpful to recognize the warning signs of failure.
Every item in your home has a breaking point; it’s just natural. On average, a traditional water heater can last between eight to 12 years. An on-demand tankless water heater can last up to 20 years. And, with regular maintenance checks, your water heater will last longer than most. But, if your heater is starting to climb in age towards its expiration date, the chances of it failing increase significantly. If you have a traditional water heater older than eight years old or a tankless water heater older than 15 years, a failure may soon be on the horizon.
If you’re uncertain of your water heater’s age, you can check the serial number. A standard serial number on a water heater begins with a letter that signifies the month in which the appliance was made. For example, A is January, B is February, C is March, and so on. The two numbers following the letter signify the year the water heater was made. For example, D14 would mean the water heater was made in April 2014.
You should schedule check-ups for your water heater regularly, and on an annual basis after the water heater is more than six years old. Ideally, you should also schedule a flush of your water heater tank every year. This investment can save you money in the long run, as it can add several years of life to your water heater.
Steel can rust over time, and this corrosion can seep into the water supply in your water heater. Homeowners usually notice this when the water coming out of their taps seems rusty and discolored.
On the other hand, if water is coming out cloudy or smelly, this is likely a sign of mineral sediment build-up on the bottom of the water tank. Over time, sediment can clog drains, slow down the heating process, and cause the bottom of the water heater tank to overheat. When your tank overheats, it weakens and damages the tank, causing further problems.
Sometimes, discolored water is a small problem with a quick fix. For example, your water tank could just need a flush. Otherwise, it may be a sign your water heater has expired and needs replacing. Either way, an inspection from a professional plumber should be scheduled right away.
All home appliances make the occasional noise. But, if your water heater is making loud, constant noise, it can be a bad sign. A water heater that makes popping, banging, or rumbling noises as it heats water is likely a sign of mineral sediment build-up. As the water heater heats and cools water repeatedly, the minerals can harden, reducing the efficiency of your appliance. It can also accelerate damage, with the metal turning to brittle and increasing the risk of a crack formation.
Often, the mineral sediment issue can be resolved with a standard flushing procedure. Water heaters should be flushed on an annual basis. However, if the problem hasn’t been addressed quickly enough, some of the damage can be permanent and require a water heater replacement.
Take a look around your water heater. If there is visible corrosion or rust around the appliance, it’s usually a sign of a leak. The older a water heater is, the higher chance of a leak occurring. Even a small leak is a sign of significant damage to the water heater, as it can be rusting from the inside. Along with breaking your water heater, a leak from the tank can also cause significant property damage (ruined carpet, flooring, items, mold growth, and more).
Some of the possible causes of water heater leaks are:
- Fractures in the tank from years of the metal expanding from the cool and hot water
- Issues with the fittings (i.e., the connections to the tank)
- The temperature or pressure overflow pipe is broken
As soon as you suspect a leak, call a plumber for an inspection.
A Lack of Hot Water
If your water heater isn’t providing hot water throughout the house, it’s a problem. You can’t take a warm shower, wash the dishes, or do the laundry without hot water.
There are a few possible explanations for this issue. The three most likely explanations are:
- A misadjusted thermostat
- A tank that’s too small for the usage of the household
- A broken heating element. Check the burner of your water heater. If you see a blue flame, then it’s working perfectly fine. But a yellow or orange flame is a sign that the burner isn’t working correctly and needs servicing.
Regardless of the root of the problem, you should call a plumber immediately to address a lack of hot water. Your plumber will be able to advise if it’s a quick fix (i.e., adjusting the thermostat) or a replacement job (too small of a tank).
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain in Memorial City, West Houston
If you suspect water heater issues or that your water heater is about to fail, you can schedule an inspection with the local, trusted plumbers at bluefrog Plumbing & Drain. If your water heater breaks on you, we are available for 24/7 emergency plumbing.
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain has had operations in Memorial City, West Houston, for several years. The residents of Memorial City, TX have come to trust bluefrog Plumbing + Drain for all their plumbing needs. Services offered include:
- Drain cleaning
- Traditional water heaters and tankless water heaters
- Sewer and water lines
- Camera inspections
- Plumbing fixtures repair and replacement
- Leak detection and repair
- Gas lines and leaks
Book your first appointment with us today for an inspection. We provide free home evaluations and estimations!