When we think of modern, efficient appliances, water heaters may not be the first thing that jump to mind, but there are plenty of things to think about before yours leaves you out in the cold.
There are lots of advantages to newer models designed for high efficiency. Homeowners should make a plan to care for them with regular maintenance in order to prolong their lives, and recognize the danger signals that could indicate imminent failure or flooding. When regular inspections, draining, and flushing of the water heater occur, you can expect a gas water heater to last between 8-12 years and an electric water heater to serve your home for approximately 10-15 years.
Signs of Trouble
An unexpected freezing shower is never a good way to start the day, and major appliances do have a tendency to give out under periods of high usage - like when the whole family is visiting for the holidays! This isn't your imagination or even Murphy's Law, it usually happens because when a machine that is already headed for trouble can't handle the strain of providing higher than normal quantities of hot water in a condensed period of time.
So how do you know if there might be trouble ahead? Pay attention to these key signs:
If you turn on the hot water tap and see brownish or tinted water, it could mean a couple of things: either your water heater has started to rust inside the tank or that rust has developed somewhere in the piping. If you suspect rust in your system, call a plumbing expert to help determine where it is and what needs to be done to correct it.
Over time, sediment builds up in your hot water heater. As it's heated over and over again, the sediment will get hard and will start to shift around, causing rumbling or gurgling noises. These sounds aren't a good sign, and can lead to overworked water heaters, leaks, internal damage, and more.
This one is a no brainer, but sometimes it's the first sign a homeowner has a hot water heater problem. If the water from your taps is cold, or feels like it isn't keeping up to the temperature you have set, call for help.
Pay attention to the area around your water heater and look for signs of moisture or water on the floor and at or around any connecting pipes. These can be signs of a leak. Depending on where the leak is located, you may be advised to replace your water heater to prevent tank failure and flooding.
Old age always comes into play when it comes to water heater warning signs. If yours is around 10 years or older, you may want to consider investing in a new one before your current one starts to leak or cause other problems. If you aren't sure how old your water heater is, ask a professional for help identifying the model and serial number on the unit, then write the date on the tank with a permanent marker so that you don't forget.
Knowing the signs of a water heater in trouble and the general lifespan of your equipment can save a lot of aggravation and panic by allowing you to plan ahead and replace a failing unit at a time that is convenient for you.