Forgive us if we’ve asked this before, but how old is your hot water heater? Have you had it flushed out recently? With proper maintenance, hot water heaters can last up to 10 years, but without it they can break down quickly. Fortunately, they give some warning before they give out. Have you been asking the questions listed below? If you are, remember we asked about your hot water heater! It could be talking to you.
“Who’s making popcorn?”
Over time, sediment and calcium build up inside the tank of your hot water heater. Calcium carbonate is a mineral inside water. Once water is heated up, the calcium carbonate is released from the water and settles at the bottom of the tank. If your water heater is not properly maintained and flushed every year, this sediment buildup gets thicker and thicker.
As the water heater is heating up the water, it is also heating up all the junk inside the tank like the calcium and sediment. This causes the sediment to get so hot that it bangs around your tank making loud popping and rumbling noises.
It’s important to note that all water heaters, new and old, will make some noise. It is only a problem if the noise is so loud that you can hear it from your bedroom or any living space. Having your water heater flushed every year cleans out the sediment and calcium buildup and keeps you from experiencing these loud “popcorn” like sounds. However, if there is too much sediment and calcium buildup, it’s time to get a new water heater.
“Ok, who used up all the hot water?”
The typical water heater should be able to hold enough hot water for you and your family to all take showers and at the same time, run your washing machine and dishwasher. If this is not the case and you find yourself running out of hot water quicker than you once were, this means you have a problem.
All signs tell us that there is sediment buildup inside the tank. There is so much sediment buildup that it is not allowing your water heater to hold a full tank of water, causing you to run out of hot water a lot faster than you should.
The average water heater produces about one pound of sediment per year. If you never get your water heater flushed, that’s an extra pound of sediment per year that’s just sitting inside your tank taking up space. This causes a lot of wear on your water heater. Not only is the tank not able to hold as much water as it once did, but it also has to work harder to heat through all that sediment in order to heat the water that’s inside. Once the sediment level reaches a certain point, it’s time to get a new hot water heater.
Why does the water smell like rotten eggs?”
Inside every water heater is an anode rod. It is made out of a weaker metal than the tank, and is designed to extend the life of your water heater.
There are lots of chemicals in water which break down metal. The anode rod is there so the chemicals break down the rod before they break down your tank. By attacking the rod, it allows your tank to live longer.
As your water heater starts to age, the anode rod breaks down as it is designed to do, creating an egg-like smell that pollutes your hot water and comes out your faucet. If you’re smelling eggs, it could be because parts of your water heater are no longer working efficiently and need to be replaced.
“Where did the cold water go?”
Inside every hot water heater is a sensor that tells the water heater to shut down once water reaches a certain temperature. As your water heater ages, this sensor gets coated with calcium and sediment buildup. This buildup prevents the sensor from working like it should causing the water to heat up to a temperature that is so hot, it could burn you.
“Should there be rust spots outside the hot water heater? That’s bad, right?”
It is. As the hot water heater begins to heat the water, the tank expands and retracts. This heat expansion can cause an older water heater to leak. Because each water heater typically has 6 holes, it has 6 different places to leak from. These leaks cause rust stains to appear down the side of the tank and around the bottom of the tank.
All water heaters have a drain pan that can handle a small leak if the leak is at the bottom of the tank, but sometimes the leak will be at the top of the tank and cause water to spray out. If the water heater is in the attic, the leak can spray on the insulation and cause damage to the ceiling of your home.
Rust stains and water marks are early warning signs that your water heater is leaking and needs to be fixed sooner than later. If not properly taken care of, the leaks will get bigger and stronger causing damage to your home and the water heater itself.
We always tell our customers to make a point to go and look at their water heater a couple times a yearly. If you check it out on a regular basis, you can look for these signs to make sure nothing bad is about to happen, and if you see anything, you can get someone out to fix it or replace it before something bad does happen.