5 signs of sediment buildup in your water heater
The water heater tank is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” appliances that we generally don’t even acknowledge until something goes wrong. Whether it’s the shower water refusing to warm up or the heating playing up, when the boiler goes, you are going to know about it.
They say a boiler will last, on average, for about ten years. This is particularly true in areas with hard water. Problems can occur for several reasons but one of the most common causes of a faulty boiler is a build-up of sediment.
What is sediment build-up?
Over time and after many months of use, the minerals and particulates in your water supply will start accumulating inside the hot water tank in your boiler. This sediment, if left untreated or removed, can lead to everything from leaks and noises to completely unusable boilers.
Depending on the mineral content of your water supply, sediment can build up to damaging levels in years or even months. So it’s vital that all homeowners with boilers installed know what signs to look for before calling out the plumber.
1. Hissing, rumbling and popping noises
Noisy boilers are a common indicator of sediment buildup. Generally speaking, when many homeowners hear their pipes creaking a groaning they put it down to something innocuous like “the house settling.” But if you’re hearing creaks and rumbles then it could be because the heater in your tank is burning the sediments settled at the bottom. Popping noises can also often be heard due to pockets of air that form beneath the sediment, whereas hissing or sizzling can be heard if the water beneath the heating element starts to steam. Any of these noises should be cause for concern.
2. The water never gets hot enough
Have you ever found yourself screaming bloody murder at your shower in the morning because it just won’t get hot enough for you? Even with the dial set to scolding levels? Or does it eventually get there but take too long for comfort? Sediment might be the issue here. This is due to the sediment collecting in the tank and forming an insulating layer between the water and the heating element that causes less heat to reach the water. The more sediment that builds up, the harder the element has to work and this will eventually lead to a failure.
3. Odd coloured water
Water, as we all know, is meant to be a gentle clear blue and it is supposed to taste refreshing and neutral. If you notice a cloudy texture and a rusty taste, this could be due to sediment corroding metallic elements in the heater. This is a very unpleasant side-effect of sediment buildup that will eventually eat away at the lining of your tank.
4. Leaky valves
The temperature or pressure relief valve is what keeps your boiler consistent and operational but a buildup of sediment on the heating element can cause the tank to heat up too much. This causes it to expand and put added pressure on the water and this can lead to a leak or even a burst. Indeed if it gets bad enough the tank can explode. So, if you notice your pressure valve leaking it’s best to get it examined ASAP.
5. Higher bills
Finally, if you’ve noticed your heating bills spiking in recent months (more than everyone else) then note a buildup of sediment means more heat will be required to adequately heat the water.