Your hot water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home. You rely on it for everything from showers to running the dishwasher and more. But water heaters are also more prone to wear and tear because of their constant use.
If you don’t recognize the signs that it needs to be replaced, you could be dealing with significant water damage. These signs indicate that your water heater is nearing the end of its life:
It’s important to remember that water heaters go through more wear and tear than many other appliances because they are in constant use, heating the water in the tank continuously. As such, water heaters only last about 8 to 10 years before needing to be replaced. The date your water heater was manufactured is listed among the information on the equipment, and you can safely assume that the heater was installed within a couple of months after manufacture.
If the date on your water heater is eight or more years in the past, start closely monitoring the equipment for problems. You may also consider proactively replacing your water heater when it reaches the end of its predicted lifespan to avoid major problems. If you push a water heater too far, the tank can burst, causing a lot of damage that could have been prevented by replacing the system.
Rust on the Tank
While there are several easily repairable valves and other parts on a water heater, the tank that holds the hot water cannot be repaired. If you notice rust on the outside of your water heater’s tank, it likely indicates enough corrosion to cause micro leaks or otherwise weaken the tank. You’ll need to replace your entire water heater if this happens.
Rust isn’t always visible from the outside of your water heater. Sediment buildup and general wear and tear can cause corrosion inside the tank, weakening it from the inside and contaminating your hot water. If you notice that your home’s hot water has a brown tint to it when the faucet is first running, hidden corrosion is likely to blame.
If you notice a leaking water heater, inspect it carefully. If the leak is coming from a nearby pipe, one of the valves or the water heater connections, the problem can easily be repaired by replacing or resealing the affected area. However, if the leak is coming directly from the tank, your water heater could burst at any moment. Turn off the water heater and the water valve feeding the tank immediately and call a plumber.
Unusual Knocking Noises
Over time, your water heater will experience sediment buildup along the bottom of the tank due to minerals in the water. When there’s too much buildup, the extra layer between the water and the heating element causes the water heater to overheat — that’s where the knocking noises come from. This can weaken the tank and cause corrosion rather quickly. If the noise has been happening for a while, it might already be too late to save the tank.
Like many aging appliances, water heaters don’t tend to go quietly. It may be time for water heater replacement if you feel like you’re always dealing with repairing it. Not only will it save you the hassle but it will also save you money in the long run.