Reed's Plumbing & Excavating

How’s Your Hot Water Heater Doing?

With every water heater, you’ll come across problems you may be able to repair yourself or will have to leave to the professionals. There will also come a time to replace it, and in most cases, your water heater will let you know when that time comes.


But how can you spot the difference?

From our knowledge and experience, we’ve put together the following insights to answer your questions about repairs and replacements.


Your Water Heater Smells

Does your water heater smell like rotten eggs or sulfur?


More likely than not, the water is infected with bacteria. You can repair this yourself by flushing the tank and adding a solution, like a chlorine treatment, and letting it sit for two hours before flushing it with clear water. You can also crank up the temperature between 135- and 140-degrees F. This will be hot enough to kill the bacteria present in the water.


If you have tried both methods and the smell persists, consider contacting us.


Not Enough Hot Water

This is a common problem with an easy solution. If you don’t have enough hot water, simply turn up the temperature, being careful not to raise the temperature too high, as this can lead to scalding water. Temperatures between 135- and 140-degrees F is a good temperature to keep bacteria at bay, but it can lead to scalding. So, if you want to keep at this level, we recommend installing an anti-scald device near the water heater’s outlet.


No Hot Water

There’s a big difference between having little hot water and no hot water. The difference is evident in the water, and in the necessary repairs. If you aren’t getting hot water, it’s probably because your thermocouple needs to be replaced.


If you have an electric water heater, then your heating elements could need replacement. This will lead to a snuffed-out pilot light. We don’t recommend repairing this yourself, as it’s dangerous to light a pilot light and replace the thermocouple/heating elements.


Older Than 10 Years

The best way to determine whether your water heater needs to be replaced is by checking how old it is. If your water heater is properly cared for, it can last between 8-12 years. Nevertheless, it’s recommended that you replace your tank if it’s older than 10 years, as more complications can arise with older heaters. If you own a tankless heater though, some can last up to 20 years before needing to be replaced.


Leaking Tank

If you see moisture or puddles of water around the base of your tank, inspect it for a leak. If you find a leak, unfortunately, you must immediately replace the tank. Leaks are a result of pressure in the tank and can lead to an explosion.


Rusty Water

Another obvious way to determine that your water heater needs to be replaced is when it produces rusty water. Rusty water is likely the result of rusty pipes or tank corrosion. If rusty pipes are the cause, your water heater doesn’t need to be replaced. If it’s caused by tank corrosion, then you need to replace the water heater.


One tedious method of determining if its tank corrosion is by filling a few five-gallon buckets with water. If you still see rust after the third or fourth bucket, then it’s likely tank corrosion and your heater needs to be replaced.


Loud Noises

If you hear loud noises coming from your water heater, sediment is probably building up at the bottom of the tank. As water heaters age, sediment buildup will occur and harden due to reheating.


Sediment can move around and make sounds like a wrench being knocked against the inside of the heater. Sediment buildup isn’t necessarily a reason to replace your water heater, but it is considered a prereq for costly repairs. When you hear loud noises, make sure the sediment hasn’t cracked the water heater.


Though they don’t require much day-to-day maintenance, it is important to make sure you do what you can to keep your water in great shape. By using the example above and looking out for them in or around your water heater you can stay ahead of the damage and avoid costly repairs.