Is home ownership easy? Nope. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Here are some common problems that come up with water heaters.
“My water is rusty.” If the water only turns rusty when you are running hot water, your water heater may be rusting inside the tank. If your water is rusty whether you are running hot or cold water, the problem is likely in galvanized pipes that are rusting. Commonly the tank itself hasn’t begun rusting, but the anode rod is going bad and will sacrifice itself before corroding through the tank. You can have a professional replace the anode, screwed into the top of the tank. But for a temporary solution to rusty hot water, you can clean out your water heater. Drain some of the water, add hydrogen peroxide to the tank and allow the water and peroxide to sit. Then flush the water heater until the water runs clear. The peroxide chemically reacts with the rust to loosen the corrosion and allow it to be rinsed out, prolonging the life of your water heater. But I recommend allowing a licensed plumber to do this for you. Feel free to contact me for a recommendation.
“My water heater is making weird noises.” If your water heater is starting to sound like a scary monster in your basement, a la Home Alone, you may rightly begin side-eyeing it. As water heats up the sediment on the bottom is hardened after a long time of heating and reheating. It’s this hard sediment layer expanding from reheating that makes a noise. This may mean leaks are soon to follow as the sediment leads to more brittle metal.
“There’s no visible leak, but it’s damp around the water heater.” First, double check your fittings and connections. Are they damp or do they show signs of a possible leak? Make sure the pressure overflow pipe isn’t leaking as well. But if those are all dry, it means the water heater is leaking. The leak may be so small as to avoid obvious detection. As the metal heats and expands, it can create tiny holes in brittle metal that are only open when it’s expanded from heat. As it cools, the holes will close.
“My water heater just looks old, when should I replace it?” Water heaters older than ten years should be watched closely (or you should start saving for the replacement, if your tank is in a place where it won’t cause any damage). You can determine the age of your water heater by looking at the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. The first letter indicates the month (A-Jan, B-Feb, C-Mar, D-April, E-May, F-June, H-July, I-August, J-September, K-October, L-November, M- December). The next two digits represent the year. If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s website.
Feel free to reach out if you have any other concerns with your water heater that weren’t mentioned above. I’d love to help!
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21