Most often homeowners aren't aware that a water heater failure is about to happen. Have you come home to water running from under the garage or a soppy carpet? While you can't be for sure when your water heater failure will occur, there are signs that you can keep an eye out for.
One of the most important things is to know the age of your water heater. You can find the age of your water heater by looking at the manufacturer sticker on the upper portion of the water heater. It will have the brand name and many different numbers and small symbols. Try to find the serial number or manufacturer date.
This date will not be exactly when your water heater was installed, but it will tell you how old the tank is. The serial number will have a date code for example "F051052638". F is for the month - F is the sixth letter so it represents the sixth month, June. Next the first two digits of the serial number are 05, this represents the year, 2005. A water heater with the serial number F05052638 was made in June 2005. Each manufacturer has a similar "code date" for their product, some are easier than others to figure out, if you can not figure out the age of your water check the manufacturers website for the way to crack their "code". Once you know the when you water heater was manufactured you can keep track of how old it. As a rule of thumb most water heaters over 10 years old have lived a useful life can be replaced. If your water heater is in a location that WILL NOT cause damage if leakage occurs, you can wait until it develops a leak before replacing it. However, if your water heater is in a location that WILL cause damage to your home, replace it after 10 years or before if any of the following symptoms occur.
Rusty water that comes from only the hot side piping in your home can be a sign that your water heater is rusting away from the inside out and will begin to leak in the near future. If you have galvanized piping you may also have rusty pipes. A good test to ensure you are not replacing a functioning water heater, is to drain the few five gallon buckets of hot water out of the water heater. If by the third bucket the water from your water heater is still coming out rusty then most likely it is not the hot water piping, but the water heater. This is a sign that your water heater needs to be replaced.
As a water heater ages sediment will build up on the bottom of the tank. Overtime the sediment is heated and reheated and as more sediment accumulates it hardens. When this happens you can often hear rumbling or banging sounds coming from the water heater when it is heating up. This is a sign that the water heater it at the end of it's useful life. First the water heater will have to use more energy (gas or electricity) to heat the water and will be less efficient. Second the extra time spent heating the water will cause more wear on the metal tank and lead to more brittle metal that can crack and develop tiny holes quicker. If you start to heard rumbling from your water heater, keep an eye out for any small leaks, then replace your water heater.
If you notice moisture around your water, you may have a small leak or a fracture in the tank that releases water when the water heater is heating up. As the metal heats it expands, if there are slight fractures sometimes water will leak from the tank. Once the metal has cooled the inner tank will stop leaking. Make sure there are no other leaks coming from the water heater. Check the fittings and connections to the tank. Also make sure the t/p temperature / pressure overflow pipe is not leaking and causing the moisture. If everything all other connections and fittings are dry and the water heater is an older model, it may be time to replace the water heater. You can always look inside the bottom of the water heater and try to see if the inner tank is dripping. It is not always easy to see inside the bottom of the tank, but it's worth a try before replacing the tank.
If you are concerned about water heater failure or any of the signs above you can call and speak with a water heater expert 24 hours a day 1-866-946-7842 or check our FAQ's to read more about common water heater problems.
By John Heaters Google+ | Facebook
WATER HEATERS ONLY, Inc
Licensed, Bonded, Insured #374573