Cold Showers Are No Fun! How to Know You Have a Broken Hot Water Heater

Having your hot water out can be incredibly frustrating. Not only can you not comfortably take showers, a lot of other ways you use water, like washing dishes or doing laundry, can be affected too. If only cold water is coming out of your faucet this could be a sign that you have a broken hot water heater.

benefits of cold shower

Keep reading to find out more about what could be going on with your hot water.

Do You Have an Old or Broken Hot Water Heater?

The first thing you should check is how old your water heater is. You can find this out simply by checking the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. You should be able to find this on the upper part of your water heater.

Check the Serial Number

You’ll notice the serial number has a date on it. This date reflects when the water heater was manufactured.

Be warned this won’t look how you’re used to reading an expiration date. Instead, this number will look more like code like for example: “F051052638.” ‘

The F stands for the month since F is the sixth letter in the alphabet, your heater was made on the sixth month of the year or June. The first two digits are “05” which is for the year or 2005.

This would mean that your water heater was made in June of 2005. Know that manufacturers codes can vary, so always double check this on their website.

Replace After 10 Years

If your water heater is more than ten years old, then it’s probably time for a new one. If your water heater is over ten years, but in a place where it won’t cause damage if there was a leak, you can wait until there’s a leak to replace it. But know it’s recommended to replace your water heater before there is a problem if possible.

How Often Do You Use Hot Water?

Another aspect to consider when wondering if it’s time to replace your water heater is finding out how often you’re using hot water in your home. For example, if you have a family of six that is actively using hot water all day long, your water heater will have a shorter life than say one person who lives alone and travels a lot.

Repairs Add up

Of course, you could always repair your water heater with plumbing services if there’s an issue. Which at the time might feel more cost-efficient. But you should know that repairs do add up.

If something keeps on causing problems, breaks and is giving you trouble, that’s a sign there are likely more problems that will arise. If this happens, sometimes the best way to deal with this is to replace your water heater before it causes you more unforeseen issues.

Check the Color of the Water

Another way you can tell if it’s time to change your water heater is the color of the water. Here are some colors of waters you should watch out for, and what they mean.

Rusty Water

If the water coming out of your faucet is rusty, that’s a sign that your water heater is only distributing water from its hot side and piping that into your home. This can be a sign that your water heater itself is rusting on the inside. If you don’t care about this soon, your water heater might start to leak.

Another issue could be rusty pipes especially if you have galvanized piping. A way to test this that might avoid you having to replace your water heater is to drain a few five-gallon buckets of hot water from under your water heater.

Usually, by your third bucket, if the water is still coming out rusty then you know it’s the water heater and not the pipings fault.

Muddy or Sandy Water

If the water coming out of your sink is sandy or muddy, this can be a sign that there is sediment build up in your tank. With some cases, you can drain your tank and remove the sediment, which will take your heater back to normal. If this doesn’t work then you’ll have to replace your heater.

Weird Noises

When your water heater ages, sediment tends to build up at the bottom of its tank. When the sediment is heated and then reheated, it can harden. If this happens, you’ll likely hear banging or rumbling noises that come from your water heater when it heats up. Sadly, this means you need to replace your water heater soon.

If you don’t that layer of hard sediment will make your heater less efficient. Since it will have to use more electricity or gas to heat up the water, which will affect your gas or electric bills.

This also can create more damage as the extra time that’s spent heating up the water means there’s more wear on your metal tank. If this continues, the brittle metal and crack or create holes in your tank.

Water Around the Water Heater

If you see water or any type of moisture around your heater, this could mean that there is either a fracture or small leak in your tank. When the metal of the tank heats up, it expands, so if there are any tiny fractures, water will leak through the tank. It’s only when the metal has cooled that your inner tank will stop leaking.

Before you rush to replace your tank, make sure there are no other leaks for any other fittings or connections to your tank. You also want to check that the temperature and pressure overflow pipe isn’t leaking. If all the connecting fittings are dry, then it’s probably time to replace your tank.

The Water Isn’t Hot

If every time you turn your hot water, and you discover that the water isn’t hot, this could be because of two things. One factor could be the pilot light is out and or your circuit breaker is tripped. Another issue could be that your hot water heater is done being useful, and it’s time to get a new one.

If the water is warm, but not hot, this could mean that the heating element is burning out. You might just have to adjust your thermostat and make sure your temperature is between 120 to 140 degrees, as anything lower might give you warm but not hot water.

Fix Your Water Heater Today

Now that you know what to look for to see if you have a broken hot water heater, take the necessary steps to fix your heater. That warm shower you’ve been craving will happen before you know it.

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