Your hot water heater works day and night to provide your household with water for bathing, laundering, cooking, and cleaning. However, if your water heater suddenly stops working and leaves you without hot water, then you will notice its absence quickly.

Being without hot water can be a frustrating, miserable experience, so it is important to know the warning signs of a failing water heater. Failing water heaters often provide a lot of warning signs. By watching for the four warning signs listed below, you will know when to contact a plumber and have the water heater repaired or replaced.

1. Reduced Water Temperature

One of the first signs your water heater may be close to failure is a reduction in water temperature. This can occur whenever the heat source, which may be an electric element or a gas burner, is unable to transfer as much heat energy to the water.

A common reason why heat transfer is inhibited is a buildup of sediment inside the tank. As water is heated, dissolved minerals precipitate from the water and collect at the bottom of the tank. These sediments, mostly magnesium and calcium, can prevent heat transfer by creating an insulating barrier between the burners and water.

Other problems can cause a reduction in water temperature, including thermostat malfunctions or heating element damage. However, there is a higher likelihood that sediment accumulation is responsible for lower water temperatures.

Draining the water heater to remove sediments may be an effective solution. However, you will need to contact a plumber to determine if draining is sufficient or if replacement of the tank is your only viable option.

2. Sediment at the Faucet

Another sign your water heater may be failing is the appearance of sediment at the faucet or inside appliances. While much of the sediment that precipitates from the water settles inside the tank, some of it circulates along with the hot water and enters the home. This sediment is visible as tiny, light-colored particles that resemble sand.

If your water heater has been in service for an extended period of time and you suspect it may be failing, remove the aerators from your home's faucets. These devices filter incoming water and capture sediment; the presence of significant amounts of sediment inside aerators is a sign of accumulation inside the tank.

3. Change in the Taste or Smell of Water

If you notice that the taste or smell of your hot water is changing, then you should suspect your water heater is the culprit. Changes in hot water taste or a rotten egg smell can be due to the presence of bacterial growth inside the tank.

Another reason the water’s taste or smell may change is due to the corrosion of the water heater's anode. The anode is a metal rod inside the tank that is designed to corrode in lieu of the tank itself. If your tank’s anode is corroded, then a replacement of this component is often sufficient to eliminate the bad taste or smell.

4. Leaking from Tank

While the presence of sediment or bad-tasting or bad-smelling hot water may be due to correctable issues, a leak in the tank usually requires replacement. If water is leaking from your hot water heater's tank, then it is probably not going to be economical or safe to repair the problem.

If water is leaking from a fitting or relief valve, then repair is a much more feasible alternative. At that point, consulting with a plumber is necessary to make an informed decision about options for repair or replacement.

If you believe your water heater is acting up and will need repair or replacement, then be sure to contact the professionals at Preferred Plumbing & Drain for assistance. The team at Preferred Plumbing & Drain can provide sound guidance and perform any necessary repairs or replacement of your water heater.