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Most of the time we don’t worry too much about our water heater – until it goes out! But the truth is -your water heater will often give you warning signs well before it goes out. If you pay attention you may catch issues that you can repair, or even if it is time to replace your unit, you may be able to avoid even more costly damage to your home such as damaged pipes or water damage.

1 Not enough Hot water or inconsistent temperature.

Does your water take forever to heat up, do you run out of hot water or is your water lukewarm even though it is set at a proper temperature? Insufficient hot water one of the most common signs of a failing water heater. Overtime mineral deposits can settle in the bottom of your water heater tank. The more sediment the harder the tank’s heating element has to work and as sediment builds it can actually reduce the capacity of your tank. If your water heater is newer, an annual flushing of the tank may fix the problem and prolong the life of your system, however if that does not work or your unit is older (and cannot be flushed out because of old brittle seals and values) it is time to consider replacement

2 Cloudy, Rusty or metallic smelling water

Poor water quality is a sign of sediment build up in your tank and rusty water may indicate corrosion in your tank as well as your pipes and is a sign it is time to have your water heater checked. In some cases, a water filter and flushing the tank may help correct the issue if caught early.

3 Strange noises

There are sounds that are normal for a water heater to make – like a hum when the burner unit ignites. But if you notice strange noise such as popping sounds, banging, rattling, creaking or whining – it could be an indication of problems

4 Water leaks

If you notice water pooling around tank it likely indicates that corrosion within the water tank has cause fractures and cracks. Slow drips and leaks can escalate quickly and should be addressed as soon as possible. Serious flooding can occur is the tank fails resulting is costly water damage to your home.

5. Age

Even with proper care and maintenance, no water heater lasts forever. A water heater’s useful life varies depending on the type of water heater, your water quality (do you have hard water?) and how well it has been maintained. A traditional tank-type water heater lasts an average of 10-15 years. Although an older unit may not be exhibiting problems it may be costing you in higher water and energy bills and could pose a greater risk of problems or failure.

Ultimately, if your unit is past it’s life expectancy and is exhibiting any of these warning signs, upgrading to a new unit may be cost effective, preemptive step that will save you possible problems and headaches in the future as well as save you money in the long run.