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Seven warning signs your water heater needs repairing this winter

Winter is setting in, and it’s the time we need hot water most, so Metropolitan Plumbing has shared their seven warning signs your water heater might need urgent repairs.

The trusty water heater is the backbone of your bathroom, kitchen and laundry, as it’s responsible for serving up that desirable on-demand supply of piping hot water. Take the system out of the equation, and your whole lifestyle comes crumbling down.

The good news is that you can keep your eyes (and nose) open for signs of potential problems. Particularly the seven warning signs listed below. Contact a plumber for repairs early, and you can keep those cold showers to a minimum and your water heater operating for years to come. Wait too long, and you may find yourself in the market for a new water heater sooner than expected.

Here are seven signs that your water heater needs urgent repairs:

  1. Visible Leaks or Fractures

Moisture, leaks and water pooling around the bottom of a system are all obvious signs that you require urgent repairs. Rust and severe weather damage can cause leaks and fractures in a hot water system. This damage can limit water pressure, reduce the system’s lifespan, and even cause water damage to your home. However, if leaks and fractures are caught early, then a system can usually be repaired by a professional.

  1. Rust Coloured Water

If the water flowing from your taps is browny-red, then you have a rust problem.

A water heater features internal components that are designed to rust over time. These components are called sacrificial anodes, and through the wonders of chemistry and science, the anodes rust so that the remainder of the system can remain rust-free.

Rust-coloured water is a sign that it’s time for the anodes to be replaced. Call for plumbing services in Adelaide so a professional can perform the necessary repairs. Or, the anodes can be replaced by a plumber during an annual service before they rust out and cause problems.

  1. Popping and Banging Noises


If untreated, rust can form sediment at the bottom of a water heater. The rust will harden over time as it’s heated, causing banging, popping and even clicking sounds in the process. The sediment can corrode the bottom of a system if it’s not removed during the early stages of formation. Once again, unusual noises are signs that it’s time to call in an expert for the appropriate repairs.

  1. Inconsistent Water Temperature

Changes in water temperature can be taken as a sign that your water heater requires a new thermostat or heating element. The thermostat is essential for setting the desired water temperature, while the heating element is the component that heats the water.

Without these parts functioning correctly, you’re looking at a future that consists of scalding hot showers or ice cold baths. There’s also the health risk to consider. According to SA Health, a water heater set at below 60 degrees celsius for extended periods of time can become a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease.

  1. Yellow Pilot Light Flame

The pilot light on a gas hot water system should be bright blue in colour. If it’s more orange or yellow, then there’s not enough oxygen reaching the flame to burn all of the gas. A build up of dirt or debris could block a gas line resulting in carbon monoxide leaking into your home.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless by-product of burning gas, and it can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches and more severe illness if it’s not dealt with immediately. 

  1. Rotten Egg Smell

A rotten egg smell wafting around the water heater should be taken as a sign of a gas leak. Unlike carbon monoxide, natural gas gives off a foul odour that’s added for clear identification.

As gas is flammable, it poses serious health and safety risks. If you can smell gas, immediately shut off access to the gas line and phone a professional to repair the leak.

  1. Old Age

Storage hot water systems have a lifespan of 10 – 12 years, while continuous flow gas systems are rated for 15 – 20 years. If you have a water heater that’s getting on in years, take its age as a sign of impending failure. An old water heater could continue to perform for a while yet, but it will also be more prone to faults and may perform well below its full potential.

Call Metropolitan Plumbing 24 hours a day for everything hot water related. Metropolitan has local technicians available for repairs, servicing, and installing new water heaters. Every technician is a licensed gas fitter capable of working on both electric and gas systems.

Disclaimer: The advice and content for this article has been supplied by Metropolitan Plumbing in partnership with Glam Adelaide.

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