Q: Why does my water heater not work as well as it used to?
A: This is usually due to a sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters grow older, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If these deposits are not removed periodically, the sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing the water heater’s performance level. The result is an increase in the amount of fuel required to deliver hot water.
Q: The water does not stay hot for as long as it used to, do I need to replace my water heater?
A: There are two main causes for the lack on hot water, both of which would not require replacement of the whole water heater unit. The first would be if you have an electric water heater one of the heating elements may not be operating properly or the thermostat has malfunctioned and would need to be replaced. The other main reason would be that the dip tube has broken off inside the tank and is now allowing the incoming cold water to mix with the hot water instead of being forced to the bottom, this is true for both gas and electric water heaters.
Q: What causes hot water to be rusty and brown?
A: First, chemicals can cause rust in the water lines and a change in the water pressure will cause the rust to loosen up and come through the water lines and into the shower, bathtub, or other appliances.
Another cause could be a break in the pipe. What you may be seeing is dirt. What happens is when water is flowing and on, and then you suddenly turn it off, it creates a slight low pressure in the line which pulls in dirt around the pipe. When you turn on the flow, that dirt is pushed along until it comes out of the tap or showerhead. After several cycles, you can have a bunch of dirt in the lines, which dissolves and makes the water look brown or rusty.
Two other possibilities could be that the glass lining in the water heater may be compromised, allowing the metal jacket to rust. If this is the case, you don’t have long until it starts to leak and will need to be replaced. Secondly, if you are on a well, iron bacteria may be growing, and may not be showing up in the cold water because it remains invisible in solution until it is heated, or has more time to react with oxygen in the water heater. In this case, shock chlorination of the well may be in order. A simple test by a water treatment company will tell this, and in many areas, it is free.
Q: What is the best temperature to set my water heater at?
A: There are a several different temperatures you can set your water heater to so you can set it to what ever you and your family are comfortable with. Most people are comfortable with their water heaters set to 120⁰F which is the new standard manufacturers pre-setting. If you have an older model than more than likely yours is at the medium setting. On electric models you have to adjust the thermostats (there may be two) which are located behind two panels on the side of the tank
NOTE: Be sure to turn off all electricity to the water heater before removing these panels and you can adjust the setting to the desired temperature. If you have a gas water heater there is a dial on the front of the gas valve which allows you to adjust it to the desired temperature.
Q: When I fill a container with hot water it is milky, but after a few minutes the water in the container clears up. What causes this?
A: Complaints of discolored water are commonly blamed on water heaters and storage tanks, but in fact, it is a rare occurrence for today’s high quality glass lined tanks to have a lining failure significant enough to allow water to contact enough bare metal to discolor the contents of even a small tank. The most common cause of “rusty” water is a non-toxic iron reducing bacteria, scientifically termed Crenothrix, Leptothrix, and Gallionella. Water heaters and storage tanks usually require new anode rods as presence of iron bacteria contributes to premature anode failure.
The simplest treatment available is shock-chlorination of the system. This is a surface treatment, and often requires repeated trials in heavily infected systems. The chlorination of a system requires that you follow each step explicitly to avoid an un-treated portion of the piping system from reinfecting another part.