Common Signs That Your Water Heater Is Giving Out

Posted on: 18 May 2015

Most people don't think about their water heaters until they turn on the faucet to a cold shower. Often, there are signs that your water heater is about to go out. By knowing what they are and inspecting your heater periodically, you can plan for a replacement before you are stuck with nothing but cold water.

Check the Warranty

The lifespan of a water heater depends on many variables ā€“ the specific heater and manufacturer, whether you have hard water, and how much it is used. A good place to start when determining whether or not your heater is reaching the end of its life is to check the warranty. This information is usually on a sticker on the side or top of the unit. If your heater is well out of its warranty period, any problems may indicate that it's time to replace it.

Monitor for Leaks

Leaks are usually the first sign that you may need a new water heater. Even small leaks indicate a problem. Remove the cover and make sure the insulation isn't damp. Also, check the bottom of the unit for signs of corrosion or for water collecting in the drip tray.

A leak doesn't always mean that the water heater needs to be tossed. Sometimes, you may just need to repair a failed valve.

Test the Elements

Hot water heaters have two elements, one at the bottom and one at the top. The bottom element is more likely to fail because this is where the sediments from your water tend to build up. You can check the elements with an OHM meter, which will give a reading if the elements are working correctly.

Generally, you may need to replace the heater if both elements are burned out or if your elements are failing and you have other issues, such as a leak. For heaters in otherwise good condition that are still within their warranty period, you may be able to simply replace an element.

Listen Closely

Some noises are normal, such as the sound of running water as the heater refills after use. Others are cause for concern. If you you hear pops and cracks coming from inside the heater, you may have a major mineral buildup. Those pops are the sounds of mineral chunks breaking off the heater walls.

More alarming is the sound of bubbling or hissing. If you hear this, get out of the house and call an emergency plumber in Orange County, CA. Your heater is overheating and boiling the water, which can lead to a devastating explosion. Fortunately, this is rare.

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