Is Your Water Heater Trying to Tell You Something?


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Signs that it may be time to replace your water heater.

Stepping into a cold shower when you were expecting hot water is an unpleasant surprise. Water damage from a failed water heater tank is far worse. Stay attuned to the needs of your water heater with these telling signs that it may be about to fail.

Lukewarm water

A lack of sufficient hot water is one indication that a water heater is failing. Over time, mineral deposits in the tank build up and can interfere with the heating process. Annual flushes of the tank can help minimize this problem.

Unusual noises

Listen closely to know if your hot water heater is making any creaking, popping or rumbling noises, which are another sign of mineral buildup in the tank. Flush the system. If it’s still making strange noises afterward, the tank could be on the verge of a leak.

Murky or smelly water

Murky water is another warning of mineral buildup that can lead to hot water heater failure. Sometimes in addition to visible cloudiness, there can be a metallic smell or taste. While the minerals do not pose a health risk, they can certainly be unappealing.

Faulty pressure relief valve

Every hot water heater has a safety feature called a pressure relief valve. If the water gets too hot and too much pressure builds up, the valve opens to release water and prevent an explosion.

If you notice water coming out of the relief valve, call for service right away. You may just need a new valve rather than a replacement of the entire water heater. No matter what, it’s important that this safety feature remains operational at all times.

Regular testing of the pressure relief, every six months or so, is advised. To test the valve, move its lever up and down several times. If there is no drain under the discharge pipe, put a bucket beneath it before testing. A properly working valve will release some water into the drain tube. If little or no water is released, it’s time to call for service.

Leaking water

Water puddling around your water heater is a sure sign that failure is near. If you notice even a little water, turn off the power first, then turn off the water supply. You don’t want to be standing in water while the electricity is still flowing. Drain the tank using a hose or container. This will avoid having the 50 to 100 gallons of water stored in the tank flood your home.

If your water heater tank has a leak, the only option is to replace it.

Plan ahead

The average lifespan for hot water heaters is about 10 years. Depending on frequency of use and mineral deposits, you may only get 8 years of service, or you might be able to get 12. Wise homeowners plan for water heater replacements before system failure and has the potential to create flood damage.

If you can, set aside money in a designated Consumers savings account to cover planned repairs and replacements around your home. And if a hot water heater failure takes you by surprise, consider a Consumers home equity line (HELOC) to help you get a new one installed.

Consumers helps more than 2,000 members finance land, first and second homes, and home improvement projects each year. We’d love to help you with a mortgage or home equity line of credit; contact us online or call us at 800-991-2221.

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Consumers home loans

We’d love to help you with a mortgage or home equity line of credit.

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