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5 Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater

Some home maintenance projects you put off until you no longer have a choice.

Out of sight, out of mind. Why jump into a big, expensive project if you don’t have to?

Which is why most water heaters aren’t replaced until the problems begin.

5 Signs That It's Time to Replace Your Water HeaterA water heater has a useful life of anywhere from 8 to 12 years. If your water heater is approaching ten years, it’s time to think about replacement.

But no matter how old your water heater currently is, there are tell-tale signs that suggest the end is near. You may have had them happen in your home over the past few months and thought little about it.

If you take the time to evaluate the situation now and make a decision before the worst happens, you can save yourself money, time and a headache in the process.

1. Problematic Noises

A water heater is one of those appliances that can produce a variety of sounds over time. Yet in many cases, your water heater is in a part of your home you rarely frequent. It’s in a corner in the basement. Or in a closet off to the side. Spend a few minutes and listen. Do you hear:

Banging or booming? A banging noise can be caused by a variety of things. It may be the equipment is malfunctioning. It may be scale or lime formation in the water heater tank is causing a surge. It may be a thermal expansion of hot water. It may be as easy as cleaning the sediment out of the tank. It may be as simple as replacing a part. But the louder a banging noise becomes, the more serious the problem could be. A call and a maintenance visit can determine the problem quickly.

Clicking sounds? It’s probably just thermal expansion of the hot water. Modest water heater clicking or tapping noises are often considered normal. They are also normal during the ignition phase of a gas fired water heater. If you begin to notice the noise increasing, that’s when bigger problems may occur.

Humming? On some water heater, as water flows across the heating element, it may generate a humming sound. If it is a heating element, tightening it may stop the vibration. A humming sound may also indicate a failing or miswired electrical circuit. Any electrical problem should be considered unsafe, and corrected immediately.

Popping, gurgling or clanking? If you hear loud popping or gurgling sounds when the water heater is operating, the cause might be mineral deposits which have accumulated at the bottom of the tank. The harder your water supply is, the faster this sediment can accumulate, the greater chance for noise to appear. If this happens regularly, cleaning can eliminate the noise.

2. Lukewarm or Cold Water

Nothing feels as good as jumping into a hot shower on a cold day. The water flows over your body and warms you, preparing you for the day ahead.

Jumping into a cold shower, however, can start your day in an entirely different way.

When you notice your hot water isn’t as hot as it once was, or worse, there’s no hot water at all, a number of things can be wrong.

The fuel supply may be gone. If the burner is no longer functioning, it can’t heat the water properly. And the most common reason a burner no longer works is the gas supply has been cut off.

The pilot light may need repair. The pilot light may be extinguished for a variety of reasons. A defective thermocouple may exist, preventing the burner from igniting to heat water. In some cases, an electronic igniter may have gone bad. These generally require a plumbing technician to troubleshoot the problem.

The thermostat may be off. In some cases, a family member may have bumped it and adjusted the temperature down. Is it at 120 degrees? If not, turn it up and observe it for a few moments to ensure the system kicks into action. If it doesn’t turn on, it may need repair or replacement.

3. Leaking Water Heater

Take a walk around your water heater every once in awhile. Do you see water puddling around the tank? Even the smallest of leaks can become problematic quickly.

Start by determining where the leak is coming from. Just because it’s by your water heater doesn’t mean it’s the cause. It may be a furnace drain line or other plumbing problems.

A leak from a water heater can occur in many places. It may be at the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet connections. It may be the temperature and pressure relief valve. It may be the heater drain valve. Or it may be the water heater tank itself. A valve may be easy to repair or replace. But a leak in the water heater tank can indicate immediate replacement.

4. Water Discoloration

In some cases, you may notice water pooling around your water heater. What color is it?

While clear water may indicate a problem with a valve – a simple repair – if the water color changes and begins to show a rusty color, it can indicate problems with the tank. When water sits against metal, it can begin to rust over time. And once it begins to rust it quickly escalates into bigger problems.

If you see a rust spot on the floor, it’s an indicator rust is beginning to form inside the tank, leaks are soon to occur.

5. Rust or Corrosion

Rust and corrosion often take years to accumulate. Once it occurs, it can damage quickly and spread even faster. Watch the areas around the temperature and pressure valves, and the inlet and outlet connections. If rust and corrosion exist within the tank, it’s time to replace your water heater.

Do you see your water heater in any of the scenarios? Start the troubleshooting process now and give us a call. Today’s technology has made water heaters more efficient than ever before. We can show you how to increase your energy efficiency and save money in the process. Give us a call today.