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Common Water Heater Issues To Be Aware Of

Water Heater IssuesAnyone looking to buy a home, whether it a new home or an older home, needs to have a professional inspection.

Some homes have a lot of problems and some have very few. After you make an offer on a home, buyers have an “option period” of between 5-10 days.

During that time, you have the right to hire a professional home inspector to check out every aspect of the home including the plumbing and the water heater.

Water heaters are something that can cost you a lot of money if they are not setup properly or are way beyond their lifespan.

Here are a few items to look out for when you are at a house you are interested in and you spot out of the corner of your eye the water heater.

Is your water heater installed correctly?

Inspecting a water heater and the plumbing in very important, including the age of the water heater and the possible life expectancy of the unit.

Many water heaters have been installed by persons that are not aware of the rules or codes required. These are important for the proper performance of the water heater, and help to prevent water damage to the sheetrock or wood structure from water leaks.

Water heaters that are installed in the garage must be elevated off the floor by at least 18 inches, because if gasoline is spilled in the garage, the gas fumes settle down low to the floor. With it being elevated, the water heater ignition source is elevated above the fumes.

Do you see water dripping coming from the heater?

Taking a look at your water heater from time to time should be part of your regular inspection of the condition of your home, like looking under the sink for water leaks.

Just because you have a water leak at the water heater doesn’t mean you have to replace it.

Sometimes it is just a bad hose pipe or connecting pipe that can be repaired without the entire unit.

Water heater lifespan can vary depending on whether the unit is electric or gas. Gas units usually last longer than electric.

The other big factor is if the unit is undersized for the size of the house and the number of people that are living in there, which can overwork the unit.

The last factor is how hard is your water? Hard water can reduce the lifespan of the water heater by years.

Do you see rusty pipes?

When you go into the house you should always check for water pressure, but you should also look at the water color.

Looking for leaks, rusting or corroding water pipe connections at the water or under sinks should be something you do every 6 months or so.

Try to catch these symptoms before they can actually start to leak.

Water pressure is something that should be checked by a plumber unless you buy a $10 water pressure gauge at your local hardware store.

Most homeowners don’t do this but if you’re interested the water pressure should be between 40 and 80 pounds per square inch. Water pressure that is too high can damage the water pipes and fixtures.

Is the water see-through and clear, or is it brown?

If your water looks brown, chances are the pipes on the water heater are corroded and rusty. The pressure fluctuation of the water turning on and off can loosen the rust that is along the inner walls of the pipes and releases that water into the supply.

Water pipes that are rusting cannot only be from an old water heater but more commonly from old galvanized water pipes that were commonly used in home construction in much older houses from about 1960 and older.

Rusting is not always found from water heaters since most have anti-rust linings in the tank.

Is the water too hot?

The maximum temperature for the hot water should be set to 120 °F (49 °C). This is to prevent scalding for those with more sensitive skin such as the young or elderly.

Should you be cautious about hard water?

If you are looking for a home where it is known that there is hard water, you should find out if the homeowners are using water softeners. Water softeners will help solve hard water problems such as odors and bad taste.

Some odors can occur from old water heaters with low water temperatures and hard water. An older water heater can have a problem with a sacrificial anode.

This rod when aging can give the water a rotten egg smell.

Not all of the odor or tastes are the fault of the water heater. Installing a water softener will reduce the scale in appliances and pipes.

If the taste and clarity are a problem, installing water filters with carbon filters and reverse osmosis can greatly improve the quality of the water.

Babcock Home Inspectors has been providing accurate and thorough home inspection services to clients in the San Antonio, TX area as well as Boerne, Canyon Lake, La Vernia, Lytle, Medina Lake and Pleasanton areas since 2001.

For more information or to arrange an appointment, please feel free to contact us at 210-325-2106 today!

Written by Ray Babcock

Ray Babcock

Ray Babcock is the owner of Babcock Home Inspections in San Antonio, Texas. They are dedicated to highest quality in Home Inspections & Termite Control within the San Antonio area.

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