Water heaters are arguably the central appliance of your home's plumbing system since without them you would not be able to wash your clothes, your dishes, or even yourself. Just like all other appliances, water heaters can break down over time and become less effective and efficient at their job. Understanding what some of the most common signs of outdated and worn-out water heaters are can make it easier for you to determine when you should talk to a plumber about replacing your current unit.
Irregular Water Quality
The first and most obvious sign of a water heater that has reached the end of its lifespan is if you notice a distinctive difference in the quality of your hot water. Orange and brown coloring in the water can point to a buildup of either rust and corrosion or the accumulation of sediment and other particles, within the hot water tank. In other cases, a strong unpleasant smell and taste associated with your hot water can point to bacteria or mold growth within the tank, which is actually a serious health concern that needs to be addressed immediately.
Inconsistent Pressure and Heat
Another sign that your water heater is no longer capable of doing the job it was initially assigned to do is if you experience changing water pressure when running hot water for an extended period of time, such as the water pressure gradually lowering as you take a shower. In some cases, this change in water pressure can also carry a change in temperature, leaving you shivering in a cold shower until you turn the hot water back up to compensate.
An additional sign of a water heater that is overdue for a replacement is if you can hear extremely loud noises coming from the unit while it is in operation. Banging, popping, and other similar sounds indicate that a thick layer of sediment has hardened over the heating element, which will expand and create these noises. This layer of sediment reduces how well your water heater can actually heat the water in its tank and can drive your utility bills up as a result. Further, sediment can get into your water supply, reducing how well your appliances can operate and clean your dishes and laundry. In minor cases, a simple flush of the tank is enough to remove the buildup, but otherwise, you will have to replace the entire water heater.