5 Signs Your Water Heater Isn’t Feeling So Hot

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Water HeaterThere is nothing like a nice hot shower to ease you into consciousness and get you prepped for another day at the grindstone. However, don’t make the mistake of taking that shower for granted. While you may not go to bed each night dreaming of water heaters, it is important to give this oft-ignored appliance some proper TLC.

Regular maintenance and attention to the details are key to ensuring your water heater will last for years to come. However, if you have been less than diligent in your water heater maintenance, there are usually signs that indicate the impending demise of this integral appliance. Check out these common warning signs that your water heater is on its way out—and what you can do about it.

  1. Leaks

Leaks are serious business when it comes to water heaters, and if you find one you need to take care of it right away. You will need to disconnect the power and turn off the gas to let the water cool, and then you can go about fixing it. It may just be something a new part or some putty can fix, but more serious leaks may require a replacement unit.

  1. Buildup

Buildups on or around the water heater can affect the efficiency of your heater’s operations, as well as the quality of your water. Sand, rust, grime, and other debris can accumulate at the bottom of your tank over time. Though a little buildup is virtually harmless, larger buildups of sediment can cause discoloration or rust in your taps. They can also prevent the drain valve in your tank for operating effectively, leaving you with bigger bills. To counteract this,  carefully drain your tank. Flushing it out occasionally will prevent major buildups, keeping your water pure and your heater running efficiently.

  1. Stamina

If your water does not heat up to the temperatures that it used to, or does not stay hot for as long, you could have a problem. Check first to make sure the pilot light is working and there is ample power going to the unit. If the pilot light or electricity is not the problem, there is probably a bigger issue going on and your heater may be on its last leg.

  1. Metallic Water

If the smell or taste of your hot water has a metallic twang to it, or looks rusty, it is a sure sign the heater is close to breaking down. This usually means there is too much iron in your water, but thankfully there are a few things you can do to save your heater. The first is to get a water softener, which will get rid of excess iron and help your water heater run more efficiently. The second option is to flush out the entire hot water tank. Metallic or rusty water is often the result of sediment buildup, which can be remedied by a good old fashioned cleaning. However, if this doesn’t do the trick, a third option is to get a filter. There are a several filters available depending on your type of water heater and your needs, but they work well for managing iron levels in the water. If neither of these options work, it is time for a new water heater.

  1. Noise

Your water heater is a machine, and small noises are a normal part of its function. But if your water heater is making loud or strange noises, such as cracks or pops, that can be an indication of loose wiring, a failing heating mechanism, or excess mineral buildup. You will need to identify the source of these noises in order to address them. If the problem is not obvious, it may be a good idea to call in a professional to inspect your heater. Often, taking care of the problem will simply require a cleaning or a little rewiring.

These signs are not guarantees that your water heater will break, but they do mean it needs a little TLC. See if you can repair the heater; it may just need a new part or a good cleaning. Always be careful when checking or repairing your hot water heater and wear proper safety gear—the “hot” in hot water heater isn’t a metaphor! If you do not feel comfortable fiddling around the water heater on your own, do a quick yellow pages or internet search for plumbers in your area, like “water heater Richmond,” to find a water heater specialist.