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Do you know how old your home’s water heater is? Most of them have an average lifespan of 10 years, but some units only last about eight years and others will perform well for as many as 15. Where you live, how much hot water your household uses, and whether you have an electric or gas water heater all impact its lifespan. In San Antonio, TX, a good rule of thumb is the standard 10 years.
The older your home’s unit gets, the more likely it is to have issues requiring water heater repair. It may seem overwhelming thinking about a potentially large (and costly) repair, but knowing what signs to watch out for and how to prevent them can go a very long way.
Water heater warning signs
One of the first signs for most homeowners that they may need repair service is that they receive a utility bill that’s substantially higher than normal. This often indicates that the water heater is not working optimally, having to work harder and longer and expend more energy to produce the same amount of hot water. If you get an unusually high bill and your household hasn’t actually been using more hot water, inspect the unit for the following signs of wear or damage.
This is almost always an indication that there is sediment buildup inside the water heater tank. Your unit may be making sounds that sound more like gurgling or rumbling and not necessarily a sharp knock, but they indicate the same thing.
The sounds are caused by the sediment moving around the water tank, “knocking” against the sides. The good news is that this is not an emergency situation, but you should still call a local plumber who specializes in water heater repair to come and flush the unit out. This will remove those built-up deposits and prevent premature deterioration.
If your water comes out of the faucet cloudy or rust-colored, if it has a metallic smell or taste, or if it doesn’t get hot, these are clear signs that your water heater isn’t working properly, which can mean one of three things.
One, the anode rod needs to be replaced, which is relatively simple and inexpensive. If you’re handy, you can do it yourself, but you can also have a company that specializes in water heater repair come do it.
Cold or cloudy water can indicate that the unit’s heating element is broken. This is often caused by sediment buildup in the tank, particularly near the heating element.
The third potential scenario is that the water tank itself has started to corrode on the inside and the resulting rust is going directly into your water. If that is the case, it’s almost certain that your water heater needs to be replaced entirely.
If you can’t pinpoint the problem, contact your local water heater repair company.
Any type of leak coming from a water heater is a sign that you need a repair or even to have the water heater replaced immediately. Ignoring even a minor leak can result in the tank exploding, which can cause a great deal of other damage in your home.
Water heater leaks are often the result of built-up pressure inside the tank. This can be caused by the water pressure or temperature being set too high, or if the unit’s pressure relief valve is not working properly.
Signs of leaks include rust or corrosion on the tank’s exterior, as well as moisture pooling under the water heater. If you encounter this, it’s important that you call a professional water heater repair company immediately.
Something you can do to prevent water heater leaks is turn your water temperature down to 120 degrees. Most manufacturers set a default of 140 degrees, but the Department of Energy actually recommends a temperature of 120. As a bonus, your household’s energy costs will go down.
Regular service can extend the life of your hot water heater substantially. It also allows you to catch any developing issues before they become tremendous problems requiring costly water heater repair.
Water heater tanks should be drained, flushed, and thoroughly cleaned at least annually. In San Antonio, TX, where the water is some of the hardest in the country, this should ideally be done every six months to help your water heater run efficiently. Hard water contains high levels of minerals, most notably calcium and magnesium, that accumulate over time and build up inside the water tank. This buildup reduces the water tank’s available capacity for water. It also decreases efficiency, because the buildup collects near the heating element, making the water heater work harder and, in some cases, not be able to heat up quite as much. You can drain and clean your unit yourself, but plumbers who specialize in water heater repair can also do it.
In between servicing your water heater, simply inspect it. Check the top, bottom, sides, and all hoses for any leaks or signs of erosion. If you’re doing this regularly and having the tank flushed and cleaned, you probably won’t encounter any major issues. If you do find anything concerning, call your local water heater repair company.
Repair vs. replace
Many water heater issues are fortunately minor and can be remedied fairly inexpensively. However, if your water heater is nearing the end of its life span or requires substantial or repeated repairs, you may want to consider replacing it altogether.
A reputable water heater repair company can inspect your home’s unit and advise you as to what the best course of action is.
At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of San Antonio, our team of professionals is experienced in repairing and replacing all types of water heaters. We offer preventive and emergency service throughout the San Antonio area – not just for water heaters, but all your plumbing needs. Contact us to schedule your appointment today!