Relying solely on maintenance cycles isn't always the most cost-effective way to assess the performance of your appliances. Sometimes it's important to go with your instincts if you feel one of your home's systems is operating afoul. It's quite effective to trust your gut when sudden shifts in performance occur, particularly when it comes to data collected by your five senses. This strategy is particularly useful when deciding if you need to update your aging model with a modern tankless water heater. By connecting the symptoms of water heater failure detected with your senses to the root causes of your appliance's malfunction, you'll be able to establish whether or not it's time to go tankless.
1. Look for discolorations that identify mineral buildup
The sight of funky-colored water should always set off alarm bells, especially when the tap takes a rusty tinge. If tap water only turns a reddish color when the hot dial is rotated on then you can be confident the problem is coming from your water heater, according to Angie's List. Standard model heaters begin to rust internally over time. In addition to diluting your tap water, this corrosive process makes the entire water heater more prone to leaking. By the time your tap water takes on a different color, the appliance is likely beyond repair. Going with a tankless replacement would ensure your family never deals with rust-colored tap water again.
"Trust you gut when sudden shifts in performance occur."
2. Feel for fluctuations and scalding temperatures
A tell-tale sign of the quality of a water heater's performance is the consistency of the temperature. This is especially important if kids or elders are present in the household, who are more susceptible to scalds and burns from tap water set at too high a temperature.
If the temperature of your water starts to feel increasingly inconsistent, it may be a sign that your water heater has lost the ability to accurately control the delivery of hot water. There are a few breakdown scenarios that can lead to inconsistent temperatures, including perilous incidents like a damaged heating element. Choosing a tankless electric model equipped with integrated heat controls can alleviate this concern from your daily life.
3. Listen for sounds of disrepair like metallic ringing
Another common sign of a standard heater in need of serious repair or replacement is the dinging and ringing of small metallic granules colliding with the sides of the tank. This is the sound of sediment buildup from years of use having detached from the bottom and sides of the tank. In addition to making a racket down in the basement or in the garage, the movement of this sediment makes your water heater more vulnerable to leaks and signifies your appliance is near the end of its service life. This is another scenario that can be avoided by going tankless – these sediment-free heating appliances are designed to prevent metallic buildup from occurring in the first place.
4. Smell out bacteria infestations
If your home draws its tap from well water, you may have to endure the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria in your water heater. Once this organism makes a home in the tank of a standard model heater, a rotten odor begins to emanate from the appliance, according to the Capital Gazette. The issue may be resolved by draining and bleaching the entire appliance, but why invest the effort and funds when the problem may continue to persist somewhere down the road? Going tankless ensures that you keep smelly bacteria out of your home's plumbing for good.
5. Taste test tap water to pinpoint the problem
Last but not least, don't take a subtle change in the taste of your tap water for granted. The San Francisco Chronicle warned that any type of copper, aluminum or other metallic tastes are indicative of a water heater that needs to be replaced immediately. Whether the problem is related to rust or sediment, the appliance is close to breaking down for good. On the bright side, the end of your old water heater means an opportunity to save energy and funds each month with a tankless replacement.