There is one appliance in your home that you probably very rarely think about. That same appliance, however, is one of the most likely to have something go wrong with it before you even notice any warning signs.
You use this appliance every day, multiple times a day, and as with most systems, the issues that can develop can cause a significant amount of subsequent damage to your home.
The answer to this bit of a riddle? Your tank-model water heater.
To ensure that your water heater remains in great condition, you’ll want to make sure you can recognize when the system is in trouble. After all, the quicker you have it repaired, the less damage you’ll see. That said, let’s take a look at 3 common signs that your tank water heater does need help.
Sign #1: A Decline in Hot Water Output
Do you have multiple people in your household using hot water at the same time? Or maybe you take showers that are an hour or longer? If so, you’ve probably dealt with an exhausted water heater at some point.
However, there’s a big difference between overwhelming the water heater in this way, and when the water heater simply can’t generate the output for moderate amount of demand as it used to. If your water heater has reached this point, it may be the sign of a serious problem with the system.
This can have multiple causes. There could be sediment buildup in the tank—this is particularly common in homes with hard water issues. Hard water is water with a high presence of minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron. These minerals are relatively harmless to ingest, but they’re bad news for your plumbing system.
Another possible cause of hot water decline is that the wrong temperature got set on the water heater itself. This is something you can check on yourself. But if you’re unsure of anything, the best thing to do is call in a pro!
Sign #2: Sudden Changes in Temperature
In the above scenario, we were talking about a slow and gradual decline in hot water output. Here, we’re talking about a sudden fluctuation from hot to cold, and back again. This is most commonly caused by a problem with the dip tube—a plastic tube that runs from the water line at the top of the tank water heater to the bottom of the tank.
Fresh, cold water that enters the water heater runs through this tube so that it can be heated by the burner assembly at the bottom. But, a cracked or broken tube could cause cold water to leak into the hot water leaving the tank at the top, creating this problem.
Sign #3: Water Leaks
We’re going to say this straight out: you should never accept water leaking out of your water heater, and should always give the pros a call for inspection and repairs if you notice it. Even the smallest of leaks can grow, quickly.
Depending on where the leak is located, it can cause significant problems. Storage tank ruptures are one such problem—and if your tank water heater reaches that point, then the only option will be replacement.