Your home's hot water heater is bound to act up or break down sooner or later, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the entire heater needs replacing. In many cases, you may only need to replace certain parts or perform some maintenance on the heater to get it working as it should; note a few common troubleshooting tips that could help you know where to start looking when a hot water heater acts up, so you know what you might be facing by way of needed repairs.
Water smells bad
If the water in your home generally smells bad, this may mean a build-up of sediment in the water itself and this has nothing to do with the heater. However, if you notice a bad odour just when using the hot water, this can mean that rust has formed inside the heating tank, or crystals from hard water have separated and now cling to the tank. This can cause hot water to smell rusty or have a metallic smell. If the water heater is not allowing steam to escape properly, this could mean there is now standing water in the valve or pipes, and that algae has formed. Have the heater cleaned thoroughly to fix these issues and to keep the water fresh and clean and help remove that odour.
Low water pressure
As with a bad odour, low water pressure isn't always caused by the hot water heater itself, unless you notice it specifically when you turn on the hot water taps. Lack of hot water pressure from the heater is usually caused by sediment clogging the water lines from the heater to the home's faucets, and these lines may just need to be cleaned.
Water is just lukewarm
Your hot water heater will have a thermostat that controls the heat of the water, and you may have inadvertently reset this, so check this first. Note, too, if there is a reason for the area around the hot water heater to suddenly be very cool, such as standing water in the basement or furnace room, taking out a wall in that area so more cold air gets to the heater, or having relocated the hot water heater to a cooler area of the home. The heater itself may simply need an insulating blanket so the stored water in the tank stays warm. There may also be a leak around the heating coil so that it can't work as efficiently, or the coil itself needs replacing.
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