How to Know If Your Water Heater Is Bad
Use caution when checking your water heater for signs of failure.
Most water heaters last between 10 and 15 years before they need to be replaced. When internal parts are corroded or encased in a buildup of minerals, the water heater’s efficiency begins to decline. Regularly flushing the water heater keeps it working longer. A few telltale signs will let you know it’s time to purchase a new water heater before it fails completely. Most home improvement stores keep water heaters in stock and often have people who will complete the install for a charge.
Check for Power Issues
Check for power if there is no hot water. While no hot water can be a sure sign that the water heater has failed, it could also mean the pilot light is out or the circuit breaker tripped.
Examine the Water
Examine the water that comes out of the hot faucet. If it appears rusty, this signals an upcoming failure of your water heater. Look for signs of muddy water or increased sediment in the water tank. Attach a hose to the drainage bib on the water heater, turn the unit off and drain it to examine its contents. Muddy water or increased sediment signals a potential failure of your water heater. When flushing the water heater, remember that the water that comes out of the hose bib at the front of the water heater is going to be extremely hot, as it will not be mixed with cold water. Use caution when flushing the water heater to avoid getting burned. Smell or taste the water. If the hot water has a metallic taste to it, this indicates that the water heater is close to breaking down.
Listen for Tell-Tale Sounds
Pay attention to the noises your water heater makes. While there will be normal sounds as the water heats, loud cracks and pops indicate an interaction between the heating elements inside the heater and the scale and mineral deposits built up on them.
Address Leaks Immediately
Take immediate action if you see leaking water around the water heater where none has leaked before. Disconnect the electricity or turn off the gas to the unit and let the water cool down before attempting to remove and replace the water heater. Leaking water indicates an internal failure in the water heater.
Plan for Maintenance
With the unit off or unplugged, attach a water hose to the hose bib at the bottom of the water heater. The hose bib is for draining the water heater. Let the cold water fill the water heater as you flush out any sediments or mineral build up. Scheduling a water heater flush once a year can result in extending the life of your water heater. Annually check the pressure relief valve to ensure it is working. Wear thick gloves before lifting up on the test release lever atop the water heater. If it is working properly, hot water escapes via the overflow pipe.
About the Author
As a native Californian, artist, businessperson, contractor, journalist and published author, Laurie Reeves began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. In 2003, she and her husband moved into the home she designed, they built and decorated. Reeves graduated from San Diego s Coleman College.
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