When the water heater in your Marion, IL home starts to have problems, these issues can make life uncomfortable, especially when you do not have hot water for your shower or enough hot water to finish washing the dishes. Even small problems can eventually lead to massive leaks and water damage if a plumbing professional does not fix them. Fortunately, there are ways to tell when your home’s hot water heater needs to be repaired or replaced.

You Notice Erratic Changes in the Water Temperature

When the temperature of the water coming out of your faucets seems to change frequently and erratically, the first thing you should investigate is the thermostat’s setting on your water heater to see if it was inadvertently changed. If the setting is the same, there are a couple of potential causes.

First, the heating element may be failing. As it goes bad, it will only heat the water intermittently, creating hot and cold spots inside the tank. If this is the cause, a plumber can replace the heating element.

Second, the heating element may be covered in sediment. When water is heated for several years, the minerals are pulled out and will start to coat the heating element. This coating can eventually interrupt its ability to heat the water efficiently and evenly. In this case, a plumbing professional will flush the tank to remove the excess sediment.

You Hear Weird Noises Coming From the Hot Water Heater

When your water heater is running, you should not be able to hear it. If you do start to hear such noises as popping or crackling, dirt, and mineral deposits such as calcium have built up inside the tank. As the deposits heat up, they will break apart, creating the noises you are hearing.

Since substantial amounts of minerals in the tank can eventually cause leaks, you should have a plumbing professional inspect and flush the tank. If flushing the tank does not remove the deposits and the water heater is old, the plumber may advise you that it needs to be replaced.

You Notice a Significant Change in the Hot Water’s Characteristics

To check for this indicator of water heater problems, turn on the hot water spigot on your kitchen faucet, and fill a glass of water. Examine the water, looking at its color while also smelling it.

If the water has a cloudy, foul odor to it, there may be bacteria built up inside the water heater’s tank. This problem needs to be remedied by having a plumber flush and clean the tank immediately.

If the water has a reddish-brown hue with tiny specks along with a metallic odor, the interior of the water heater may be rusted. These water changes can also be caused by excessive sediment buildup. After flushing the tank, a plumber can determine which is causing the issue. If rust is the cause, they may recommend that you replace the water heater before the corrosion eats through the metal and causes massive leaks.

You Discover Rust on the Exterior of the Water Heater’s Tank

If you discover signs of rust when examining your home’s hot water, you should conduct a thorough inspection of the water heater’s exterior to see if you find any evidence of external rust. This inspection should include the external components and pipes.

Rust on the exterior of the tank may be superficial and caused by condensation on the tank. However, external rust will eventually eat through the metal and create holes in the tank.

If the rust is caused by corrosion from the inside of the tank, a water leak may be imminent and should be taken care of as soon as possible. If you find any evidence of rust, you need to have a plumber conduct a thorough inspection of the tank. Especially if there is extensive corrosion present on either the interior or exterior, the rusted water heater will need to be replaced.

You Find the Hot Water Pressure Has Decreased Significantly

When you first installed the water heater or moved into your home, you pressure for the hot and cold water coming out of the faucets was probably at the optimal pressure. However, as time went by, you may have noticed that the hot water pressure has significantly decreased.

This decrease in hot water pressure has a couple of potential causes. First, the openings in the pipes leading from the water heater have become smaller from the gradual buildup of mineral deposits. If mineral deposits in the pipes are to blame, a plumber is needed to remove the deposits or replace the pipes if the buildup is significant.

Second, the water heater’s tank has expanded to the point that it can no longer build up and maintain the same amount of pressure as it did when it was newer. This expansion is caused by years of being subjected to the heating cycle of the water heater. This cycle included the expansion of the hot water and contraction when cold water enters the tank.

If the tank is permanently expanded to the point that it no longer produces adequate water pressure, the entire unit will need to be replaced by a plumbing professional. Eventually, if not replaced, the expansion will create breaks in the tank’s seams, which will cause water leaks and could make the weakened tank explode.

You See Water Puddles Under the Tank or Around the Pipes

When the water heater is running, it is normal to find a light coating of condensation on the outside of the tank and on the surfaces of the adjacent pipes and fixtures. This is especially true when the humidity levels in your home are high. However, you should never see water puddles under the tank or find water dripping around the adjoining pipes.

If the leaks are coming from the adjoining pipes, their connections to the water heater may have loosened and are allowing water to seep through. In this case, a plumber can check these connections and tighten them to stop the leaks.

However, if water is coming from the water heater’s tank, you need to call a plumber immediately to have them find the cause. If the tank is damaged in any way, it could eventually lead to major leaks and massive flooding as well as water damage in your home.

Most problems that create tank leaks cannot be repaired or may lead to future leaks. When the tank is leaking, the plumber will typically recommend that you go ahead and replace the water heater instead of repairing it.

Hire a Qualified Professional

Whether your hot water heater needs to be repaired or replaced, you need a qualified professional to do the work. We also provide plumbing, sewer, and septic services for your home in Marion, IL. Contact Baker & Sons Plumbing today for more information.

Caleb Shepherd

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