Most water heaters have a lifespan around 10 to 20 years, depending on the quality of the brand and specific unit you purchased and on how well you maintain it. The last thing you want is your water heater to completely break down out of the blue, and leave you without hot water for a while. Here are five quick checks you can do to find signs that your water heater will need to be repaired or replaced soon.
1. Check the Hot Water
First, run some hot water anywhere in your house — your kitchen tap, your bath or shower, and so on. When the water is rust-colored, it could be a sign that your water heater is rusting from the inside. If the water is cloudy, smells metallic, or isn’t as hot as it should be, it could be a sign that there is too much build up of minerals in the heater. The minerals cause water to look cloudy, smell weird, and insulate the water from the heater so it does not warm up properly.
2. Check the Noises Your Water Heater Makes
Another easy check is to simply walk up to the heating unit and just listen for a minute, and see if there are any strange noises. If you hear popping or banging sounds, it is another sign of the excess mineral buildup that causes your heater to overheat. The unit makes these noises as it tries harder to get the water to the proper temperature. Overheating the unit causes excess wear and tear, and could cause leaks to start.
3. Check for Moisture or Water Stains Around Your Water Heater
While you’re at the water heater, check around the unit to see if there is any moisture or signs of water stains. Water is a sign that there is a leak somewhere in the water heater, or on the connections, fittings, or valves to it. If you see signs of a leak, start looking carefully for the site of the leak to determine what exactly needs to be fixed.
4. Check the Color of the Flame
If your water heater is specifically a standard atmospheric unit and uses a flame underneath the water tank to heat up the water, take a look at the color of the pilot light. It should be blue, but if it looks yellow or orange instead, it is a sign that the heating portion of the heater is not working properly and isn’t putting out enough heat.
5. Check the Pressure Relief Valves
Take a look at the pressure relief valve and the temperature valve as well. The pressure relief valve is supposed to release pressure that builds up if the water tank is overheating. If it fails or gets clogged by excess minerals it can cause your water tank to explode. This is a serious issue, and could destroy your house. If you notice there is even the slightest leak, have it fixed or replaced immediately.
About the Author
James Memije is the co-owner of AccuServ Heating and Air Conditioning. He has extensive knowledge in hydronics and forced air systems and is a Licensed Gas Fitter with several certifications including heat load calculation and air duct design.