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How Do You Know If Your Water Heater Is Going Bad?

The water heater tends to be the most overlooked and neglected of all of the major home appliances. It is understandable. After all, the water heater is often tucked away in a utility room or garage, where it is a simple matter of out of sight, equals out of mind. Nobody gives it a second thought until something goes wrong and the need for water heater repairs becomes urgent.

Avoid getting stuck in a cold shower or, worse, a flooded garage by taking note of these early-warning signs that signal that your water heater is in need of professional TLC.

Lack Of Hot Water

This one may seem obvious, but we are not talking about a complete lack of hot water. The idea here is to recognize the need for water heater repairs before the hot water has stopped flowing altogether. An aging water heater will become less efficient over time, making it more difficult to produce the same volume of hot water. If you notice that you have to cut your shower short because you run out of hot water or that it is taking longer between uses to recover the hot water supply in your home, it is a good sign that your water heater may be going bad.

Water Temperature Fluctuations

As your water heater ages, it becomes less efficient and may have trouble maintaining a full tank of hot water. The heating elements may be required to cycle on and off multiple times to produce the hot water you need for a long hot shower or a soak in a hot bathtub. This constant cycling can translate to bursts of cold water followed by a sudden stream of scalding hot water as your water heater struggles to regulate the temperature of the water in the tank to supply the hot water you need.

Changes In Water Pressure

Water heaters are large metal appliances connected to metal pipes. These metal components are prone to corrosion due to years of constant exposure to water and air. As the pipes, connections, and tank begin to break down, debris accumulates and settles near the bottom of the tank, around the inlet and outlet ports, and within the pipes leading to and from the tank. As this debris begins to clog the lines carrying water into and out of the water heater, you are likely to experience a significant reduction in water pressure when running the hot water in your home. If you are noticing a drop in water pressure over time, it may be a sign that water heater repairs or a water heater replacement may be on the horizon.

Strange Noises

Many homeowners have been conditioned to ignore strange noises coming from their plumbing systems. The truth is that noisy pipes or noisy appliances are not normal and should be investigated by a qualified professional to discover the root cause of the ruckus.

When it comes to water heaters, many homeowners will report loud rumbling or popping noises emanating from the water heater tank when the unit is in use. These noises are not a normal part of the water heater’s operation. What you are hearing is the reaction between the superheated water inside the tank and the minerals in the corrosion sediment at the bottom of your water heater tank. These noises are often the first indicator that the interior of your water heater tank is beginning to break down, and it may be time to consider a replacement.

Discolored Water

As we have already touched upon, corrosion is a natural result of an aging water heater’s metal components being continuously exposed to water and oxygen over the lifespan of the appliance. As this corrosion builds up in the water heater tank you are likely to start seeing rusty or cloudy water coming from the water taps inside your home.

While discolored water is generally not harmful, it is unappetizing and often has an acrid aroma and taste. Most homeowners don’t relish showering or bathing with cloudy, rust-colored water.

Noticing discolored water from your taps may be a sign that your water heater is nearing the end of its useful lifespan. However, it is possible that you may be able to resolve the issue with simple water heater repairs to replace the anode rods inside your unit. Anode rods are metal wires located inside your water heater that help to stave off corrosion. Replacing these rods may help restore water quality and buy you a few more years of use out of your hot water heater.

Foul Odors

Are you noticing a distinct rotten egg odor when you run the water in your home? This foul egg odor is often the result of a build-up of sulfur bacteria in the water supply or within the water heater itself.

Take note of when you smell the rotten egg odor. If you notice the smell any time the water is run, then the culprit is likely the water supply to the home. However, if the smell only seems to be present when running hot water, then you can likely trace the source of the odor to a buildup of sulfur bacteria within the water heater tank.
You may be able to eliminate the overgrowth of sulfur bacteria from your tank by temporarily raising the water temperature to kill the bacteria. Remember to use caution when using the hot water after raising the temperature to avoid scalding.

If the sulfur odor remains, professional water heater repairs may be required to replace the standard magnesium anode rods with aluminum rods which are less reactive and tends to result in less sulfide bacterial growth.

Leaking Around Water Heater

Leaking water in the form of puddles or damp areas on the floor or walls around the water heater is a clear sign that water is leaking from the tank or the connecting inlet and outlet pipes. There is never a good reason for water to be leaking from the appliance, and any leak indicates that it is time to call in professional plumbers for assistance.

Water Heater Repair in Asheville, NC

There is no need to put up with cold showers, discolored water, foul odors, or leaking appliances. Four Seasons Plumbing is proud to assist homeowners in Asheville, NC, and the surrounding areas with all of their plumbing concerns. Our knowledgeable professionals will diagnose your water heater woes and have your appliance repaired or replaced quickly. Give us a call at 828-216-3894, or send us a message today!

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.