Your family depends on the water heater to provide everything from hot showers to clean dishes. So your best defense against any failure of the water heater is to be vigilant for symptoms of an ailment.
What are the most common water heater ailments? Here are four to keep an eye out for without even looking at the unit itself.
1. Popping or Rumbling Noise
Do you hear popping noises or a rumbling — reminiscent of rocks bubbling in a small waterfall? This may be from sediment buildup in the tank, which moves around when the water heater works hard.
Sediment accumulation could indicate that the water heater has reached its age limit, or it may also be a normal byproduct of heating and cooling processes. While sediment doesn’t necessarily sound like a terrible thing, you shouldn’t ignore the problem.
The buildup can damage the heating system and cause the water to boil rather than be heated through normal channels. The end result may even be expensive water heater failure.
2. No (or Too Much) Hot Water
Not getting any hot water? This is one problem you’ll want to address quickly. Start by ensuring that the circuit breaker hasn’t been tripped. If everything is intact there and a lack of power isn’t the cause, the next place to check is the thermostat. Thermostat failure could be the result of either a different heating issue that causes the water to heat up too high or a problem with the thermostat itself.
Conversely, if you suddenly get water that’s way too hot, take a look at the thermostat first. It may simply be set too high. If you adjusted it to accommodate cold weather, for instance, it may just need to be readjusted if outside temperatures warm up. If the thermostat isn’t set incorrectly, a plumber can check the wiring to look for faults.
3. Insufficient Hot Water
While most people immediately recognize when they have no hot water at all, fewer notice a more gradual reduction in what hot water is available. Take note of signs that your hot water isn’t up to snuff, such as lukewarm showers (even after playing with the knobs) or the hot water running out earlier than it used to.
Having less hot water than before could be a result of several different causes. If you simply use more hot water than you did before — such as if you have more people or those people have increased their usage — than the tank may simply no longer be big enough.
Haven’t had any big changes in usage? It could also be a faulty thermostat that doesn’t keep water at the desired temperature or a simple loose element or wiring.
4. Discolored Water
Is the water you get from the faucet clear and clean? Or has it developed a rusty tinge? Rust coloration generally means that oxidization is occurring and rust is in the system somewhere.
Rust will get into the hot water in two ways generally. The most common is an aging water heater tank that’s rusting on the inside and leaking that rust into the water. The other cause is the galvanized pipes between the water heater tank and your faucets.
Run several buckets full of hot water to see if the rust dies out after a while. If it does, the piping is the likely cause. If it continues to be discolored, have the tank assessed for oxidation.
What symptom is your water heater experiencing? No matter whether it’s water issues or strange noises, call a professional plumber today to avoid further problems. At Moon Valley Plumbing, we can help assess any water heater and find the right solution to whatever ails it. Call today to make an appointment.