Your water heater sees a great deal of everyday use, as it has to constantly supply hot water to your faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures as well as your water-using appliances throughout the day. Over time, this constant operation and flow of water can cause a variety of problems within your water heater which can negatively affect its overall performance. Understanding some of the warning signs associated with a water heater that is no longer operating properly can help you determine when you should contact a plumber before your water heater fails completely.
One of the clearest signs that your water heater is in need of replacement or repair is if you notice that the hot water coming out of your taps and faucets is discolored in any way. A reddish or pink tint, or if there are small flakes within the water, can point to rusting within the water heater itself. On the other hand, cloudy water or the presence of gray or white flakes within the water can point to the buildup of sediment within the water heater's tank, which are dissolved minerals in the water that can collect over time. In either case, a professional inspection is necessary to determine if your water heater can be repaired or if the entire thing needs to be replaced.
Another indication that your water heater is not operating as it should be is if you notice that it makes loud and irregular noises throughout the day. Banging, pinging, or cracking sounds all point to a buildup of sediment on top of the heating elements, which will contract and expand as the water heater turns on and off throughout the day. This can cause serious structural damage to your water heater over time, and will require a professional to flush your tank to remove.
Finally, the last sign that you may want to get in touch with a professional plumber is if you notice any signs of water damage in the immediate vicinity around your water heater. This includes staining, standing water, mold or mildew growth, and rust on the exterior of the unit. All of these things point to a leak somewhere in your water heater, no matter how minute, which will reduce the effectiveness of your unit and can increase the risk of water damage occurring in your home over time.
Contact a local water heater repair service for more help.