4 Signs of a Failing Water Heater
Like any other appliance, your water heater will wear over time and eventually need to be replaced. Knowing the signs of a failing water heater is the best way to avoid being stuck for days without hot water. Here are four signs that it may be time to replace your water heater.
1. No Hot Water
Water that won’t heat up or won’t stay warm is usually the first sign of a failing heater that most homeowners notice. If a lack of hot water has been a problem since you moved into your home, the heater may simply be the wrong size for your home. If the problem started recently, the heating element in the water heater may have burnt out, and you may need to replace the heater.
Before you decide to replace your water heater, get the thermostat checked. The thermostat reads the temperature of the water and sends power to the heating element when required. Replacing the thermostat may be all that you need to do to restore hot water to your home.
2. Strange Smell From the Hot Water
Certain water heater problems can cause your home’s hot water to become contaminated. One of the first signs of this is an unusual smell in your hot water. If the water smells metallic, particles of rust from the inside of the tank may be mixing with your hot water. In more advanced cases, the hot water may turn rust colored or have visible flakes of rust floating in it.
Another odor you may detect in your hot water is a smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. This is a sign of bacteria buildup in the water heater tank. Anaerobic bacteria that is naturally found in some tap water can react with the anode rods in your water heater to create an unpleasant smell. In some cases, you may be able to resolve the problem by replacing the rods with aluminum/zinc alloy rods instead of replacing the heater.
3. Burn Marks on the Outside of the Tank
You should inspect the bottom of your water heater tank regularly for burn marks. Dark streaks originating from the base of the tank can indicate that a gas water heater is backdrafting. Not only can backdrafting cause your water heater to fail soon, but it also allows harmful fumes to enter your home that pose a health risk for your family.
Burn marks are a sign that you should call a plumber to inspect the heater’s venting. Poor airflow could be causing the negative air pressure to pull gas back out of the chimney flue. The flue pipes could also be damaged or blocked. A plumber can tell you whether they can remedy the ventilation problems or if they need to replace the unit.
4. Yellow, Unsteady Pilot Light
When your gas water heater receives the right balance of oxygen and gas, the pilot light will burn a steady blue. If the pilot light is flickering and yellow, the oxygen mix is off and the burner may have malfunctioned.
Cleaning the burner is the first step to restore a healthy water heater pilot light. If problems persist, you may need to replace the burner or the entire heater. Heater replacement is more likely to be required if pilot light problems are accompanied by burn marks on the water heater tank.
When you know the signs of water heater failure, you can more likely avoid expensive water damage repairs and ensure that you always have hot water when you need it. Contact Mitchell Plumbing, Heating and Cooling for professional repairs or replacement if you are having problems with your water heater.