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Signs of Hot Water Heater Trouble

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When it comes to a hot water heater, regular maintenance is key to extending its life (See “Want to Keep Your Husband/Wife in Hot Water?”). Typically hot water tanks last about 10 – 16 years.  Servicing your hot water tank by changing the anode rod every 2-3 years (more often if high iron content) and flushing the tank every year can make a huge difference and greatly extend the life of your hot water tank. As for any signs of impending trouble, I have listed below a few things to watch for:

1. If you don’t have any hot water – The element, igniter or another component may not be working, the pilot light could be out or it may be an electrical problem. Even if you managed to get it up and running on your own, it may only be temporary.

2. If your water smells or has a metallic/iron taste – The anode rod should be changed and the hot water tank checked. You should also make sure the temperature is set correctly for your type of hot water tank to prevent the growth of bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease. It should be 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) for electric tanks and 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) for oil or propane tanks. A mixing/tempering valve should be installed on the hot water tank or on each fixture to prevent scalding. You may also want your water tested.

3. If your water is rusty, cloudy or has sediment in it – There is a build up of minerals inside the tank and on the heating elements.

4. If the hot water tank makes noises while heating up, like cracks, groans and pops – Your heating element is probably coated with mineral deposits and is struggling to function.

5. If your water isn’t as hot anymore – The heating element again could be a problem or one of the other components. It could also be a faulty mixing/tempering valve.

6. Leaking from the top – It may be a mixing valve problem, or a loose cold water inlet or hot water outlet connection.

7. Leaking at the bottom – It could be as simple as tightening the drain valve at the bottom. If there is a lot of water, your hot water tank has deteriorated and needs replacing.

Any leak, no matter how small, will not go away over time and is a warning sign of a bigger problem. If you experience any of the above it’s best to call a professional before things get worse.

CALL 1-888-458-1979 for service or to answer any questions you may have.


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