Taking a cold shower is never much fun, but taking several cold showers in the middle of the freezing cold winter because your water heater goes out is certainly a lot less fun for you and your family. Rather than trying to deal with a water heater emergency, check for these common signs there might be a problem and get a water heater repairman out to your house as soon as possible.

Limited Hot Water Volume

Obviously if you have no hot water there is a problem with your water heater, but a more subtle indicator that there might be a problem coming is not having enough hot water to make it through your family’s regular usage. If you find that after a couple of showers, running the dishwasher or doing a load of laundry that you’re already running out of hot water, call for water heater inspection and repair. It could be that your appliance has excess mineral deposits or other buildup in the bottom of the tank, reducing efficiency and leaving less room for warm water, and needs to be flushed.

Wild Swings in Water Temperature

Water heaters can be adjusted to find the ideal temperature, but if your water temps are changing from not that warm to scalding hot without you making any adjustments, it might be a sign that there is an issue with your water heater. When your appliance is unable to properly regulate temperature and deliver the right level of heat in your water, call a plumber for water heater repair.

Strange Noises in the Basement

Your water heater can’t be blamed for all those noises down in the basement, but if you hear popping, crackling, banging, or gurgling noises coming from the water heater it’s time to call a plumber. That usually means sediment is building up at the bottom of the tank, and too much sediment that is banging around could become dangerous. Some homeowners are tempted to try and flush the tank themselves, but if the sediment pieces are large they could clog the drain valve.

A boiling or “gurgling” noise could also be a sign of pressure buildup inside the appliance, which should not be ignored. Call a plumber for inspection immediately to avoid any complications.

Unnatural Colors and Smells

Sometimes a failing water heater is something you’ll notice with your other senses—smell, sight, and taste. If your water heater’s anode rod needs to be replaced and it comes in contact with high-sulfate water it can produce that “rotten egg” smell and may also cause the water to come out rust-colored. If running the water for a few seconds doesn’t get rid of the smell or color, call a plumber right away. In addition, if you notice a distinct metallic taste in your hot water, that’s usually a sign of the water heater failing.

Old Age

This isn’t necessarily something you will notice about your water heater, but if you know that the appliance is more than 10 years old, its efficiency is probably declining, and chances are it’s getting close to the end of its useful life. Proper maintenance each year from a qualified plumber in Salt Lake City can help keep it working well in the meantime, and also help you get a good estimate of when it will be time for water heater replacement so it won’t take you by surprise.

A Salt Lake City plumber can provide regular maintenance for your water heater, repair services when there is a problem, and eventually water heater replacement as well.