How do you know when your water heater is going out?

So often, we forget about the importance of the water heater in our homes until it malfunctions. Water heaters are essential to daily life, including warm showers, baths, cooking, laundry, and so many more daily activities we rely on hot water for. If your water heater is beginning to age or experience malfunction, you may notice some signs that it is about to go entirely:

Noticeable Drop in Water Temperature

One obvious sign that your hot water heater may not be working properly is a clear drop in temperature. You may notice this in the shower or while washing your hands. A drop in the temperature can indicate that the heating components within the water heater are not working properly. If you’ve noticed this, it is a good idea to call a professional HVAC technician to come to inspect your water heater. In some cases, a drop in water temperature may indicate a problem with the internal thermostat within the water heater. If this is the case, this could be a fast and inexpensive fix.

Not Enough Hot Water

Water heaters come in various sizes, which depend on the amount (in gallons) of water that they can hold and heat. If you’re noticing a drop in water temperature after using a significant amount of water, you may simply not have a large enough water heater. This may not be a result of a faulty water heater, but rather just one that is not big enough for you and your family’s needs. Consider upgrading to a water heater with a larger gallon capacity, which will allow you to use more hot water in one given time period.

Your Water Heater is Old

Most residential water heaters have an average lifespan of 6 to 13 years. If your water heater is getting up in age, it may be on its last leg. Most homeowners are unaware of the age of their water heater, which can also be problematic in anticipating when it may go out. If you do know how old your water heater is, and it’s reaching double digits, you may be aware that it may fail soon. Newer models of water heaters are more energy efficient and durable than previous models, so replacing it may be a smart idea to last for many years to come.

Water Heater Leaking or Noises

In some instances, if you’ve noticed a leak, it may just be a connector, pipe, or screw that is loose and needs to be tightened. Sometimes, you will notice condensation gathering around the base of the water heater. Depending on the humidity level of your home, this could not indicate a problem in small amounts. If you are noticing large puddles or active leaking from the water heater, this likely indicates a problem that a professional HVAC technician should assess. 

Water leaks around the base of the tank can indicate that sediment has built up on the bottom of the tank, causing serious damage over time to the unit. The corrosion indicates the problem should be addressed and not ignored. Another thing to pay attention to is if your hot water heater is making several weird noises. Water heaters, in general, are quiet appliances. Therefore, if it is making strange noises, this is likely to indicate something is going wrong.

Cloudy or Bad Smelling Water

If you’ve noticed a weird smell or appearance in your home’s water, this may indicate a problem with your water heater. This problem is often caused by rust and bacteria that are in the water, which is not being eliminated through a built-in anode rod in the water heater. Though this problem may be a result of a faulty water heater, there is also a direct issue with the water supply coming from the house. One way to check if it is the house or the water heater is to run a clear glass of cold water next to clear glass of hot water. If the cold water appears clear, you will know the issue is with the home’s watery supply. If the hot glass of water appears dirty, it may indicate a problem with your hot water heater.

Looking for service or replacement of your residential water heater? Choate’s Air Conditioning, Heating, and Plumbing can help! We’re experts in diagnosing, repairing, and guiding residential customers through all their water heater questions. We’ve been providing quality HVAC service to the entire Mid-South Area, including Germantown, Collierville, Arlington, Lakeland, and more since 1958.

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