Isn't it great to be able to climb into the shower every morning knowing that you will be starting your day with a stream of hot water washing over you? Absolutely. Likewise, having hot water to do the dishes and wash the clothes makes life more comfortable and convenient. It is all due to the gas or electric water heater in your basement or crawl space.
Unfortunately, water heaters don't last forever. Nearly every homeowner who lives in the same house for more than a decade has the unpleasant experience of dealing with a malfunctioning water heater. Sometimes water heater repair is possible, other times it is not. A licensed plumber is the most qualified to figure it out.
How do you know when your water heater is about to give up the ghost? How do you know when a simple repair probably isn't going to cut it? By looking for the following five signs:
1. Water Leaking from the Tank
Water heaters have emergency pressure valves capable of automatically draining off some water if it's necessary. If you see a little bit of water directly under the pipe attached to this valve, no worries. However, water leaking from the tank itself is problematic.
A water heater consists of a heating tank and its mechanics surrounded by an outer skin. The outer skin is not waterproof. Therefore, water seeping from anywhere around the unit is an indication that there is a leak in the internal tank itself. Internal leaks cannot be fixed. Tank replacement is the only solution.
2. Inconsistent Water Temperature
When the water heater is working as it should, water temperature will remain fairly consistent while you are showering or doing the dishes. It's true that the water will get colder if you run it long enough to completely drain the tank, but that temperature change should be gradual. Water should not be hot one minute, cold the next, and warm the minute after. If that's the case, there is a strong possibility that the heating coils inside the tank are starting to go.
3. Running Out of Hot Water
The heating elements inside your water heater could also be on their way out if you notice that you're running out of hot water too quickly. How quickly is too quickly? That depends. If you used to get 15 minutes out of a hot shower before the water got too cold, and now you're only getting five minutes, that's too quickly. A 60% drop indicates something is wrong.
4. Low or Inconsistent Pressure
When you turn on the cold water at a sink or the shower, you are completely bypassing the water tank. So if your cold water pressure is consistent and high but your hot water pressure is not, it could be a sign that your water heater is not operating properly. This particular problem might be fixable, but it might not be. A plumber can diagnose it for you.
5. Discolored Water When Hot Is Running
If you turn on the hot water and notice discoloration, the inside of your water heater may be corroded. Something is definitely wrong if you don't notice the same discoloration with the cold water. Any type of discoloration is worth calling a plumber for.
In closing, note that most municipalities require that new water heaters be installed by licensed plumbers. If you are having trouble with your water heater anywhere in the Salt Lake City area, do not hesitate to contact us. Water heater repair and replacement are routine tasks for our skilled technicians.