Repairing your water heater can be an expensive home repair, and it occurs far too often in Las Vegas.
You can't get any hot water, so you head into your garage to check the pilot light of your water heater. What you find instead is a large puddle of water that has ruined valuables and belongings you swore you would move to avoid such a fate.
The average lifespan of a water heater is listed as 10-15 years, except you live in the desert so the standard doesn’t apply. Because of our water quality, you can expect yours to last half that long if you're lucky.
Pay attention to the following five signs and you may be able to prevent any additional damage a failing water heater may cause.
Rumbling or Popping Sounds
As water heats, minerals separate and fall to the bottom of your tank and insulate the water from the burner. This means your water heater has to work a lot harder to the heat the water and all kinds of strange interactions occur inside that may sound like you're making popcorn or rolling a metal desk down the street. In either case, your water heater is on its last legs.
One reason installing a water softener is a good idea is because it curbs the amount of mineral build-up over the long-term.
Water around a water heater can either come from condensation or worn pipe fittings or tank welds. If it's the former, you're okay; condensation build-up is normal on water heaters. If it's the latter, you better call a plumber.
Less Hot Water
We're back to the mineral build-up again. The more build-up at the bottom of the tank, the harder it is to heat the water and the less room there is for hot water overall. So no, it may not be because someone in your family is taking longer showers.
Remember that regular maintenance of your tank, like flushing it at least once a year, can prolong its life.
Cloudy, Foul-Smelling, or Metallic-Tasting Hot Water
Any of the three can be a sign of a failing water heater because of too much mineral build-up passing through your pipes and exiting your faucets. One way to combat this issue is to have anode rods installed in your system. Anode rods are specifically designed to attract the corrosive minerals in the water, thereby lessening the chances of corrosion in your water heater’s lining, as well as, reducing the chance of encountering foul smelling water.
Orange or Yellow Flame
Peek at your pilot the next time it's on and check the color of the flame. Blue is good. Orange or yellow could mean the burner is failing.
Taking a proactive approach may save you thousands of dollars in repairs. Also, the only way to know if your water heater can be repaired, or will need to be replaced, is by having a licensed plumber come out to investigate.
If your water heater does need to be replaced, consider installing a tankless system. It may cost a little more upfront, but it will save money in the long run with less energy costs, not to mention their lifespan is over double that of traditional water heaters.