Your hot water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home. Without it, you can't take showers or properly wash your dishes. If the temperature of the water coming out of your hot water heater drops too low, you can have dangerous bacterial growth in the tank. This is why keeping an eye out for signs of problems with your water heater so you can address them is so important. The signs you need to look for will depend on its age and how it heats the water.
No/Little Hot Water
While it might be pretty obvious that you have a hot water heater problem if you get no hot water out of your faucet or showerhead, it's also a symptom of a hot water heater problem if you're not getting as much hot water for as long as you used to. This lack of water could point to an electrical problem with your hot water heater or (with a gas-fired unit) a malfunctioning gas burner. Cracking or eroding dip tubes can also cause this problem. When your unit is only a few years old, it makes sense to repair these problems. For very old units, it may be a smart idea to just replace your hot water heater. In fact, you will often have difficulty finding parts for very old hot water heaters.
Dirty Shower Water
If the water coming out of your showerhead or bathtub faucet is dirty in appearance, this could also be caused by a problem with your hot water heater. Over the years, minerals and other particulates can collect inside a hot water heater tank. This sediment buildup can clog the system and interfere with its ability to do its job. If you see indications of sediment, make sure that it's your hot water heater and not just a general problem with your water supply by asking your neighbors if they have similar issues.
Odd Smells/Water Leaks
Examine your unit for physical signs of problems. If you see water collecting around the base of the unit, this could mean you have corrosion and damaged seals. If you have rust problems, the water leaking on the outside will have an orangeish tinge to it. If the inside of the tank is rusting, you may notice that the water coming out of your faucets has a metallic smell. This type of damage may be impossible to repair if it is gone on for too long.
If you think your water heater may need repaired or replaced, contact a local HVAC professional like R & B Heating & Air Conditioning.