It can be a difficult thing to gauge exactly what condition your water heater is in at any given moment. You probably use yours multiple times a day, every day, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to easily recognize when there’s a problem. As with most systems, the issues that can develop with water heaters don’t really announce themselves right away.
If you want to make sure that your water heater stays in top condition, though, you need to be able to make sure that you can recognize when your system is in trouble. The faster you get it repaired, the less damage is done to it. With that in mind, let’s examine three common warning signs that you need to schedule water heater repairs.
Dropping Hot Water Output
If you frequently take showers that are over an hour long, or you have people running hot water at multiple locations in the house at the same time, you’re probably going to exhaust the water heater at some point. There’s a difference between overwhelming the water heater in that way, though, and when the system just can’t generate enough output for even a moderate amount of demand. If your water heater can’t seem to generate water above a lukewarm temperature, it could be a sign of a more serious problem with the system.
There could be a number of different reasons why this is happening. Sediment buildup in the system could be at fault, especially in homes with tank water heaters and a problem with hard water. As mineral deposits form on the bottom of the storage tank, they will eventually insulate the water inside the tank from the heat being generated by the burner assembly. It could also be something fairly simple, like the wrong temperature setting on the water heater itself. It’s best to let a professional examine the system, regardless.
Sudden Fluctuations in Temperature
Whereas the above problem deals with a steady and consistent decline in the amount of hot water available, this issue has to do with a sudden switch from hot to cold and back again. This can be caused by a couple of different issues. Most commonly, though, this kind of hot-cold-hot situation is caused by a problem with the dip tube.
The dip tube is a plastic tube that runs from the water line at the top of the tank to the bottom of the tank. Fresh, cold water that enters the system runs through the tube so it can be heated closest to the burner assembly at the bottom. A cracked or broken dip tube can leak cold water into the hot water leaving the tank at the top, which causes that issue.
If you ever notice water leaking out of your water heater, it’s very important that you call for repairs right away. Even small leaks can grow over time, and depending on where they are located they can cause massive problems. Storage tank ruptures are one such problem, and in cases like those there is often little to do aside from replace the entire system.