Rusty water coming from your water heater can be a sign that it is rusting on the inside and might leak soon. Check if the water is only coming from the hot side piping in your home. If you have galvanized piping, though, it may be your pipes that are rusty. Do a test by draining several five-gallon buckets of water out of the water heater. If the water is still rusty when it comes out after several buckets, the water heater is most likely the issue.
If your water heater is more than 10 years old, think about replacing it. Look for the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. This is on the upper portion of the water heater. The serial number will have the date that the water heater was manufactured. Typically, the first letter will represent the month. For example, “A” means January, “B” February, and so on. The two digits after that represent the year. For example 06 means 2006. If your code doesn’t look like that, check with the manufacturer.
Listen for rumbling or banging as your water heater heats up. Sediment builds up over time up on the bottom of the tank. As it is heated, it will harden after years. This is a sign that your water heater is not going to last much longer.
Look for moisture around your water heater. You might have a small leak or fracture in the tank. Heated metal expands, so a fracture would lead to leaks. When the metal has cooled the inner tank will stop leaking. Make sure the overflow pipe is not leaking. Check the fittings or connections to the tank. If they are dry, you may need to replace your water heater soon.
There are ways to help prevent a failing water heater if yours isn’t on its last legs, including inspections twice a year.
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