ABC Blog

When To Replace Your Water Heater

a water heater

When water heaters run correctly and efficiently, they operate in the background of your home and make your life easier without you having to think about it. However, when water heaters start having problems, they can become a major headache.

The top question that homeowners ask about their water heater is how they will know when it’s time to replace it with a new model. Luckily, there are several signs to look for, such as an uptick in your energy bill, leaks, weird noises, inconsistent water temperature and more.

Some homeowners also experience a rotten egg smell coming from their faucets or water heater, which is a sign of damage inside their water tank.

Lastly, leaking from the side panel of your water heater is usually due to your temperature pressure relief valve releasing, which is a crucial safety mechanism.

If you experience any of these issues with your water heater, it’s important to contact a professional plumber.

When To Replace Your Water Heater

When used efficiently, water heaters are typically designed to last for around ten years. That includes both tank and tankless water heaters.

However, several factors can impact the lifespan of your water heater or lead to costly repairs. For example, how it was installed, water quality and whether or not the water heater is maintained all play a major role.

As a homeowner, there are several signs that you can look for to determine if your water heater is at the end of its life and needs to be replaced. First, consider the age of your water heater. You should consider replacing it soon if it is approaching ten years old.

The older water heaters get, the less efficiently they run. Plus, older water heaters will likely experience more issues that can become time-consuming and annoying for you to fix.

Next, serious leaks could indicate that it’s time to replace your water heater. If water pools around the base of your water heater or drips from any connections, it can lead to serious damage.

A hot water heater leaking can indicate that your unit is corroded and damaged beyond repair. If the inside of your water tank is corroded, it will result in rusty-looking water with a metallic odor.

Another reason to replace your water heater is if you notice inconsistent water temperatures in your home. If your hot water runs out faster than usual or is unevenly distributed, your water heater will likely not work at full capacity. Inconsistency can indicate a failing heat element of sediment buildup inside the tank.

Signs Your Water Heater Isn’t Efficient 

Is your hot water heater making strange noises? Popping, cracking and rumbling sounds are also signs of sediment buildup inside the water tank. This buildup will eventually damage the tank and drastically reduce your hot water heater’s efficiency.

One of the best ways to tell if your heater is operating at a lower efficiency is through your energy bill. If your bill has significantly increased for no clear reason, it’s probably time to replace your hot water heater with a more efficient model.

Some of these problems are fixable and don’t require fully replacing your hot water heater. However, if you experience multiple issues at the same time, it’s time for a new water heater.

Contact a professional plumber to determine if your hot water heater can be repaired or needs replacing.

The best way to prolong the life of your water heater is through regular maintenance. Finding a professional plumber you trust with the upkeep of your water heater will save you time, money and headaches in the future.

a bathroom

Why Does My Water Heater Have a Rotten Egg Smell?

Does your water heater have a rotten egg smell? This is an unpleasant experience that many homeowners deal with when there are problems with their hot water heaters.

It can also be an alarming experience to smell a rotten egg odor when you turn on your faucet. Luckily, it is a fixable problem when you enlist the help of a plumber.

The rotten egg smell comes from the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria in your water heater. Hot water tanks provide low-oxygen environments, which are the perfect place for these microorganisms to thrive and spread. They consume naturally occurring sulfur compounds in the water and produce hydrogen sulfide gas as a byproduct, which is responsible for the rotten egg odor.

Another contributor to the rotten egg smell is the type of magnesium anode rod used in your heater. Most hot water heaters have these rods inside them to protect the tank against corrosion.

However, as magnesium and water interact with each other, hydrogen gas is generated. The hydrogen gas then combines with the sulfur compounds to form hydrogen sulfur gas, which intensifies the rotten egg odor.

What To Do About Water Heater Rotten Egg Smell

It’s important to contact a plumber if you notice a rotten egg smell coming from your faucets or water heater. They can give your water and plumbing system a thorough inspection to identify the root of the problem.

One solution that a plumber may recommend is to replace the magnesium anode rod with an aluminum or zinc anode rod. If the smell is a result of the magnesium rod, simply replacing it may eliminate the rotten egg smell altogether.

However, if sulfur-reducing bacteria are present, your plumber will most likely recommend flushing the water tank and disinfecting the heater to get rid of the bacteria. It’s important to leave this task to a professional since they know how to flush a water heater and have the right tools to get the job done.

Lastly, if neither of the above solutions works, your plumber may recommend implementing a water treatment. A chlorination treatment or water filtration system are both good options in this scenario. They will both help eliminate the sulfur-reducing bacteria that cause the rotten egg smell.

No matter what is causing the rotten egg smell in your hot water heater, it’s important to address the issue. Contact a plumber to diagnose the problem and find the right solution for your home.

a technician working on a water heater

Why Is My Water Heater Leaking From the Side Panel?

There are several places where your water heater can spring a leak, and it’s important to take them seriously. One place is from the side panel of the water heater. When this happens, the culprit is often the temperature pressure relief valve, known as the TPR valve.

The TPR valve is a safety mechanism installed in water heaters to prevent excessive pressure and temperature buildup inside the tank. If the water pressure or temperature reaches dangerous levels, the TPR valve releases water to prevent the tank from rupturing.

When the TPR valve releases water through the side panel of the water heater, it relieves pressure and prevents a catastrophic disaster.

Contact a professional plumber as soon as you notice water leaking from the side panel of your water heater. While you wait for them to arrive, turn off the power and water supply to your heater.

Next, assess the situation and notice the size of the leak, where it’s coming from and the rate that the water is leaking. Take note of any signs of damage or pooling around your water heater. However, do not attempt to repair the water heater on your own. Wait for a professional plumber to arrive.

A professional will have the expertise and tools needed to fix the leak and solve the underlying cause. Avoid attempting a do-it-yourself solution that can further damage the water heater or your home.

If the side panel leak is caused by the TPR valve releasing, it’s important to remember that it is a vital safety mechanism. However, any type of hot water heater leak can cause damage to other parts of your home. To avoid further damage, do not wait to contact a professional plumber to look at your hot water heater.

Contact a Professional Plumber To Take Care of Your Water Heater

Anytime you experience issues with your water heater, whether that be a foul odor, leaking or inconsistent water temperature, you should contact a professional plumber to look at your system. A plumber will diagnose the problem and tell you whether or not your water heater can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced. If repairs are needed, it’s best to leave them to the professional.

Do not hesitate to contact a plumber anytime you notice damage or your hot water heater not working. Regular plumbing services can also maintain your water heater and extend its life span.

ABC Can Help With All Your Water Heater Service Needs

Water heater problems can cause large disruptions in your day-to-day life. If you’re experiencing issues, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our licensed professionals will efficiently fix any water heater issues you may be having.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

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