Water heaters come in a standard tank style as well as a newer, tankless model. They're usually pretty reliable, but sometimes problems can occur, like cold or tepid water, rusty or bad-smelling water, leaks and odd noises coming from the machine. There are certain concerns that come specifically with cold weather as well. These include faulty parts, lack of insulation, mineral buildup, corrosion and overheating, according to Pure Plumbing.
Before you begin making a repair, turn off the power to your water heater by switching off the circuit breaker or removing the fuse on the water heater circuit in your home's breaker box. Next, turn off the gas supply by switching the pilot control valve to "pilot." Pure Plumbing says you can also shut off the water supply to your heater if necessary, but only do so if the power and gas are already off. Close the shutoff valve on the cold water pipe coming into the top of the heater tank.
Key things to check on a gas water heater if your showers are running cold are the pilot, the thermocouple, and the gas control valve. On an electric water heater, look at the thermostats and the heating elements. If your water starts out hot or lukewarm but quickly goes cold, the issue could lie in the heater's temperature setting or the heating elements, or you may have sediment in the tank or a damaged or disconnected dip tube, according to The Spruce.
The culprit in this case is corrosion within your pipes. The only way to stop the issue is to remove the rust or replace the entire pipe. The smell could also be due to bacteria buildup within your pipe.
Pure Plumbing says a leak in your water heater could be caused by a faulty temperature and pressure relief valve, a leak from nearby plumbing or a leak in the tank itself. If you have a faulty valve, you can easily repair it, but if the leak is coming from your tank, you'll need to replace the entire heater as soon as possible.
Those things that go bump in the night are likely just sounds coming from your water heater. Boiling water makes low rumbling and popping sounds, and boiling is caused by overheating due to the buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank. You can flush your water heater to get rid of these sediments. Hissing sounds are an indicator of leaks. The hiss is the sound of water drops falling onto the burner and sizzling. It could also be caused by condensation, which will subside as soon as the tank finishes fully heating up if it was recently turned off and back on.
If you have concerns like these and believe your heater needs to be replaced, consider Aqua Finance for help financing your purchase.