Problems with your water heater don't always mean it's time to replace the heater, but it's a good idea to have unusual sounds and odors investigated by a plumber so repairs or replacement can be done as needed. You rely on the appliance for warm showers and to wash dishes, but it's easy to take it for granted until you suddenly have no hot water. Here are some signs your hot water heater needs attention and what kind of repairs may be needed.
The Heater Makes Popping Noises
Popping and crackling noises could be due to sediment building up on the heating element. This situation could cause the unit to overheat, so you should call a plumber when your heater starts making new and different sounds. As long as no damage has been done to the heater yet, this problem can often be fixed by draining and flushing the water heater to get rid of sediment. You may even want to flush the heater on an annual basis for preventative measures, just to keep sediment from building up and potentially causing problems.
Water Is Dripping From The Tank
When you notice a puddle of water around the water heater, you should try to determine its source. There might be a loose connection, which is an easy fix. However, it's also possible the tank has a tiny hole due to rust. A rusty water tank is a serious problem since it can't usually be repaired. You may need to have a new heater installed when your old one becomes rusty and leaky.
The Hot Water Has Sediment Or Smells Bad
If your hot water has a bad odor or if you see sediment settle out of it, then you have some detective work to do. First, see if the problem exists in all hot water lines and cold lines. The problem could be in a single pipe rather than the heater. If cold water is affected too, then you know the problem isn't the heater. If all the hot water faucets have the same problem, that helps narrow down the cause. Sediment could be mineral scale or rust. Both minerals and rust can give the water an odd odor, appearance, and taste. If the problem is caused by minerals, then flushing out the heater could fix the situation. If rust is in the water, that could mean the inside of the tank is rusting and the tank needs to be replaced.
Water Doesn't Get As Hot As Usual
When your water heater no longer gets water hot enough, that could be a sign a heating element is bad. It will probably quit working eventually, so getting repairs done at the first signs of trouble reduces the risk of running out of hot water at an inconvenient time. When your heater needs mechanical repairs, you'll have to consider the age of the heater and the cost of the repairs against replacing the unit. Once your heater is old enough, it could be better to replace it rather than invest in repairs that may only keep the unit working a short while longer.