When a hot water heater experiences problems, you would expect the symptoms to include water supply issues like low water pressure or tepid water temperatures. But water heaters can sometimes also create smelly or discolored water, and the unit itself can sometimes become loud.
Here are a few of the potential fixes for these more unusual water heater problems. Call a professional plumbing service, like Action Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning Inc, for assistance for the advanced fixes or any that you don't feel comfortable fixing on your own.
Dark or Red Water
Turning on a faucet, you expect the water to come out clear. But if the water is instead dark or red tinted then you likely have rust somewhere in your pipes or water heater.
The interior of traditional tanked water heaters contain an anode rod that's meant to collect any entering sediment to help prevent rusting. But the anode rods can become overloaded with sediment or simply break. This can allow the inside of the tank to rust. To know for sure, shut off the water, power and any gas, if used, to the unit. Drain the water heater into large buckets using the drain valve at the bottom of the unit. Then you can open the water heater to look inside for rust.
You can also call a plumber to do the work for you. The plumber can check to see if the rust really did originate in the water heater if it's in one of the supply pipes. Whatever is causing the rust will likely need to be replaced.
Does the water coming out of your faucet smell like rotted food? Your water heater or pipes might have a bacterial infection. Again, the anode rod is likely the cause of the problem as bacteria is attracted to that rod. If you fail to flush out your water heater with peroxide at least yearly, that bacteria can continue to thrive in the water heater, which puts your family at risk.
Does the water smell more like chlorine than rotted food? Contact your water service to ask about any potential problems in the water supply. Sometimes the water company has to flush the city's pipes to provide cleaner water. And that flush can involve upping the normal concentration of chlorine for a short period of time.
Loud Water Heater
Certain malfunctions can cause the water heater to either make a high-pitched whining sound or a creaking noise. The water inside the tank boiling likely causes the high-pitched sound. What would cause the water to boil instead of just heat? Either your temperature setting is either set way too high – unlikely if no one is getting burned using the faucet – or a sediment buildup on the walls of the heater are throwing the system off balance. That lack of balance is allowing the water to overheat to boiling and can result in injury if not fixed. You need to either drain and flush the system yourself or call in a plumber to do it as soon as possible.
Water heater making creaking noises instead of whining? This can also be a sign of sediment building up in the unit and making loud contact with the interior walls. Or it can be a sign that the heating unit on your water heater is going out. Cleaning the sediment requires a drain and flush and the heating element fix will depend on your unit type. Consult your owner's manual for instructions or call a plumber.