Hot water heaters are one of the important appliances that are not noticed, by the homeowner, until it no longer functions. However, proper maintenance checks should occur regularly to see if there are observable signs that the heater is approaching failure. This is especially important if the hot water heater is a gas installation as an improper or impaired function can create dangerous conditions.
Using gas or electric hot water heaters there are similar signs that repair or replacement is needed. The most obvious of which is a leak or pooling of moisture near or on the appliance. Hot water heaters contain the internal vessel made of a glass composite which can crack over time due to temperature fluctuations. Fittings for the exit and inflow water could be loose or rusted over time causing them to leak. Leaks are one of the more common problems encountered before a total failure.
Inadequate heating of water is another common sign that failure is imminent. Over time burners, gas or electric will decrease in their efficiency. This means that the heat generated is not being properly transferred to the heating vessel. As the top of the vessel is cooler than the bottom and the heat generated is not sufficient to entice a change, the entire heater becomes less and less productive requiring repair or replacement.
Finally, the sign that failure has occurred is the heater no longer produces hot water. Failure has occurred somewhere in the system of the heater itself. At this stage, it is best for the homeowner to consider a replacement. Typically, most heaters last for years and so the availability of an upgrade exists which will improve cost saving in the long run through efficiency changes.
A water heater is a critical and valuable appliance in any home. Proper functioning and efficient delivery of heated water is a necessity. Therefore, regular checks should be made at both the hot water side and at the unit itself. By looking for signs of future failure, the homeowner can avoid potentially costly problems in the future.