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A water heater failure is a serious issue for homeowners. The lack of hot water makes it difficult to bathe, do laundry, or clean dishes, which can be a major nuisance. However, a tank leak or burst can result in serious damage to your home’s drywall, structure, and even foundation. So rather than wait for an issue to crop up with your water heater, being proactive and checking it regularly can save you a lot of headache and expensive repair bills.

Here are four signs of an aging or failing water heater to look out for.

An Aging Heater is a Risky Heater

Water heaters generally last about 10 years before they need to be replaced. Do you know how old your heater is? If you look at the serial number on the unit itself, it should tell you. The number usually starts with a letter, which corresponds to the number of the month it was made in (A=1=January, B=2=February, and so on). and the next two numbers tell you the year. So if your serial number begins with “G06,” your heater was made in July 2006, and is due for replacement.

If your unit is in a place where a leak can cause serious damage, either to your home or your possessions, then it’s best not to wait for it to develop a leak. Schedule a replacement as soon as possible.

Rusty Water

Are you seeing brown-ish colored water come from your pipes, specifically from the hot side? This is a sign that your heater is rusting on the inside, and may develop a leak soon, and you should schedule a replacement right away. Never use this water, as it could cause serious health issues.

However, the pipes in your home can also cause this. If you have galvanized pipe running through your walls, your pipes themselves could be the source of this rust-colored issue. To find out, drain about 10-15 gallons from your hot water heater into a five-gallon bucket. If the water is coming out rusty, then your heater is the issue. If not, then it’s most likely your pipes.

Rumbling Noises

Aging water heaters develop sediment in the bottom of the tank that reduces its efficiency, requiring more time and energy to heat it. This extra heating causes the metal in the tank to become brittle and crack, developing small leaks that can grow if left unattended. However, this sediment also causes a rumbling or banging sound as the water heats up. If you hear a lot of noise, consider a replacement.

Moisture Around the Water Heater

The most obvious, tell-tale sign of a leak is water around your heater. When your heater starts leaking, replace it as soon as possible before the leak expands and causes further damage to your home. However, before scheduling your replacement, check the fittings or connections to your tank to be sure that’s not where the leak is coming from. A leaky fitting can cause the water, but is a sign that may be your entire heater does not yet need to be replaced.

When you discover any of these telltale signs of an aging water heater, contact a Northern Virginia HVAC company as soon as possible. The skilled technicians at Donmar Company Heating & Cooling have consistently delivered the highest quality repair and replacement services to our customers since opening our doors in 1990. Our highly-trained and courteous technicians protect your home as though it were their own, and can finish your job quickly and on a budget that won’t break your bank.

For more information about a water heater replacement service, call Donmar Company Heating & Cooling today at (703) 457-8676.

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