You might get lucky and have your water heater just stop working one day. If you're not so lucky, you'll wake up to find the room containing the water heater flooded with hot, brown, water full of gritty material. Don't try your luck and watch out for these signs that your water heater needs a little TLC, or possibly replaced before a flood occurs.
If the hot water doesn't feel as warm as it once did, there may be something wrong with the thermostat on the water heater. Turn it up a few degrees and see if that helps. After a few days, if the water feels cooler again, the thermostat likely needs replaced, which is a simple job for your plumber. But the overall water heater is probably still healthy.
If you start to see brown water come out of the faucet when you first turn it on, you may be seeing signs of rust in the water heater. The steel tank holding the water in the heater can rust depending on the level of minerals in your local water. You can flush the tank out yourself, or have a service do it for you and do a thorough inspection of the tank while they are there.
Grit in the Water
If you see sediment in your water glass after it has sat for awhile, it is likely building up in your water heater, too. Regularly flushing out your water heater can prolong its life, but you may not get all of the sediment out each time. It will continue to build up and cause problems.
Noisy Heater and Smelly Water
As sediment continues to build up in the water heater, small pieces will break off and move around in the tank. This can sound like cracking or popping noises if you stand next to the water heater. As the minerals interact in the tank, they can add a metallic taste or a bad smell to the water. The steel tank is becoming more rusted with parts of it getting thin. The noise and smells from your water heater are a warning sign that it is nearing the end of its life. This is a good time to go to a plumbing supply store and look at new water heaters.
Leaky Water Heater
When the steel tank has rusted enough, small pinholes will develop allowing water to leak out of the tank. If you ever see water around the floor under your water heater, turn it off and contact the plumbing services. If the tank was weakened enough, it could rupture and dump a lot of brown, gritty, smelly water on the floor.
Stay Alert But Don't Wait Too Long
Watch for the signs that your water heater is wearing out and pay attention to the progression of symptoms. Have the water heater replaced by companies like Smedley & Associates, Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, when it is still has a little life left in it. Delay replacing it and you may be faced with a nasty clean up job in addition to replacing the ruptured water heater.