Winter can wreak all kinds of havoc with your plumbing, and even when the weather isn’t that cold, it can be easy to overlook the signs of trouble. The water heater, in particular, can sneak up on you with unexpected problems right at the worst possible time. It’s a very quiet appliance as appliances go, and usually does its job without much fuss while tucked away in locations like the basement or garage where you don’t have cause to be very often. When problems arise, they usually indicate something that’s seriously wrong. The sooner you can spot the symptoms of a problem, the better.
Symptoms can vary a great deal depending on the specific issue, and you should never attempt to formally diagnose a problem with your water heater yourself. It takes a trained plumber to accurately assess the problem and perform repairs. But there are a number of symptoms that appear regardless of the problem, and most homeowners can spot them with a little looking. They can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Rust-colored water or actual flakes of rust in the water coming out of your tap (particularly hot water). When the anode rod in your water heater wears out, rust will start to form on the sides of the tank. You should replace your anode rod every few years to prevent this from happening.
- Puddles around the base of the water heater. If the tank is breached, the opening can sometimes seal itself when the water cools down, making it difficult to spot. Puddles around the base of the unit indicate a significant problem with the system.
- Water bills or heating bills spike for no apparent reason. This could stem from the fact that the water heater is struggling with a worn component and needs to use more energy to do its job.
- Water that isn’t as hot as you expect, or hot water that cuts out before you expect it to. This can be caused by a number of different issues, which is one of the reasons why a trained technician should diagnose it before making repairs.
- The flow of water is reduced in some capacity. This can be a problem with the individual pipes or it could be an issue inside the water heater itself.
- Strange gurgling sounds or similar odd noises are coming from the water heater itself. Such noises usually come when sediment has built up on the bottom of the water heater, and the water is gurgling through it. It can be corrected by flushing out the tank.
- Signs of a gas leak appear. Most modern water heaters have safety features that will automatically shut off the gas to the unit in the event of a leak, but that still leaves you with a non-functioning water heater to deal with.
If you live in the Haverford, PA area, and you suspect that you water heater is having trouble, call the pros at Murphy’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning to get it fixed!