Your water heater should last you several years and should work fine even with minimal maintenance. A water heater can be difficult to troubleshoot on your own beyond a few basics, and there are a few important issues that need a plumber to repair.
Water Has Smell or Color
If your water is starting to looking brown but only when you're running hot water, this is a sign that there's probably a buildup of rust and sediment in your water heater. Any sediment in your water is typically so small that you won't notice it and is harmless, but it can build up over time in your tank and start to cause discoloration. Further, while the inside of your tank does have a protective layer, it is made of metal. If any of this metal is exposed, it can rust, which gets into your water. The solution here is generally to completely empty the tank of water and then refill it. A plumber can flush your tank for you and make sure your water quality is back to what it should be.
A problem with the same solution is a foul smell coming from your hot water, which is often caused by the sacrificial anode rod in your tank. This rod is designed to prevent the rest of your tank from rusting and is made of several different types of metals. Certain metals, like magnesium or aluminum, can cause a sulfuric smell when interacting with bacteria in your tank. The fix is to flush your tank here as well, but you can also have the rod replaced with one made with zinc, which will help nullify that nasty stench.
Whistling Sounds From Tank
Water heaters are known to make some sounds here and there, but if you hear whistling, this is something that needs investigating. One cause for whistling sounds is the temperature pressure relief valve. This prevents pressure inside the tank from building up too much as your water gets hotter, but if your water is set to get too hot, you may hear whistling much more often. Another possibility is the inlet and outlet valves, which can become worn over time. Once the airtight seal is gone, you may hear whistling noises whenever water is moving through the valves.
There are some more serious possibilities, like having a crack in your tank, which can cause damage to your tank much more quickly or cause water to leak out. Because of this, it's worth calling a plumber to investigate these noises quickly.
Water Pooling on Floor
Water on the floor around your water heater can come from a few different places, and while not all of them are drastic problems, they all need to be looked into immediately. You might have water constantly dripping or pooling nearby because of the temperature pressure release valve; if your water gets too hot, the pressure inside your tank becomes too great, and water ends up escaping through the valve. This keeps hot water from spraying everywhere, but the area around your water heater should never be consistently damp.
Another possibility is worn valve like the inlet, outlet, or drain; like above, these can cause whistling sounds but also cause water to drip down to the floor if water can escape through the faded seals. The most serious cause for this is a leak somewhere in your tank. If there's a rupture somewhere in the tank body itself and not a valve or pipe, this typically means the entire tank will need to be replaced, so contact a plumber immediately to investigate.
Reach out to a plumber for residential plumbing repair services today.