Do Water Heaters Need to Be Inspected?

water heater installed in room

Well, do water heaters need to be inspected?

If you have your home for sale, yes, it will need to be inspected for the potential buyer. Is water heater inspection “mandated” or “required” for day-to-day living purposes? No, not yet anyway, however, for general homeowner responsibility, doing a basic water heater inspection of your own won’t hurt. 

As the homeowner, if you’re wondering, “How do you check a hot water heater?”, the following steps can provide you a hot water heater inspection checklist: 

  • Monthly, check the tank for leaks or rust. Check the floor around the water heater for water, the hose and pipe connections for leaks.
  • Annually, flush the water heater to remove sediment buildup. This will improve the efficiency and keeps your water clean, clear, and healthier. 
  • Check the PRV (pressure relief valve), the small lever and following the instructions by the manufacturer. If you ‘re unable to release the lever, call a professional plumber to complete your water heater inspection. The PRV is under pressure, extreme care and caution are recommended. 
  • Check the anode rod for any corrosion or rust and replaced if more than 1/2”  is on the anode rod. 
  • For a gas water heater, check the gas connection is tight and make sure the pilot light has a small blue flame.
  • Check the top vent to make sure it has a clear opening through the ceiling. Carbon monoxide can build up, creating a deadly situation.

Who does water heater inspections? 

Other than your own as a homeowner, water heater inspections can be done by a license plumber or a home inspector. For your own water heater inspection, call your local plumber. If you have a new water heater installed, inquire if they offer a maintenance program where annual inspections are included. 

Home inspectors perform water heater inspections for potential buyers. Cities or local governments that require building permits for water heater to be replaced will require a water heater inspection before they tag the job as complete. 

How often should water heater be inspected?

A hot water heater inspection by the homeowner should be a monthly routine, along with changing the smoke alarm batteries and the air filters.  Professionally, water heater inspections will depend on the age of the unit.  

A brand new water heater shouldn’t need inspecting for the first 2 years. Then you should have a professional water heater inspection every other year until the 8th year.  At that point, if it has needed several repairs, you’ll want to have it inspected annually by a professional plumber. Because most water heaters won’t last longer than 10 to 12 years, you’ll probably be replacing the unit before that 10th year hot water heater inspection.

How many years does a water heater last?

A quality water heater with proper maintenance and decent water intake will last 12 to 15 years.  Anything past that 12th year is a bonus because the average lifespan is 10 years. If your area has hard water, it could shorten the lifespan to 8 years, which makes annual water heater inspections even more important. 

water heater near HVAC

What are the signs that a water heater is going bad?

If you learn to recognize these early warning signs of your water heater is  going out, then you won’t be surprised with a cold shower one morning. Or a garage full of water from a busted water heater. The indicators to watch for are: 

1. Not enough hot water

If there isn’t enough hot water for one shower, or you have to wait after the dishwasher or a load of laundry has been done before you can shower, you may need a new water heater. Check the thermostat first and make sure it is at 120 degrees minimum. If that didn’t help, flush the water heater and once all the sediment build up is out, it may hold more hot water. 

2. Water temperature varies

If the water is going from cold to hot and back again, check the thermostat. If that is in the right setting, then you should get a professional water heater inspection. It could be the heating element or thermostat needs to be replaced. 

3. Water heater is leaking 

If there is water dripping from the water heater, pooled up around the bottom of it, this needs immediate attention. Water is the enemy to our homes! Check all the water connections are tight, and if the water is coming from the bottom of the unit, check the TPR valve. There may be water pressure built up and the TPR valve failed.  Anything else, call for a professional water heater inspection and repair, possible replacement. 

4. Reduced water flow

When the water flow or pressure slows down, it is usually because of scale or sediment in the tank and/or the plumbing. Flush your water heater and see if that helps. If not, call a professional plumber for a water heater inspection. They can advise you if it the water heater  or the plumbing itself. You may need to invest in a water softener system. 

5. Loud concerning noises

A water heater should operate fairly quiet, so when you start hearing unusual noises and sounds, like banging, boiling, crackling, gurgling, popping, or whining, your water heater is probably filled with sediment and going out. Get a professional water heater inspection and they can advise you accordingly. 

6. Discolored or smelly water

If the water has gotten a strange odor or smell, or has turned brownish rust color, the tank is probably rusted inside, or you could have a busted pipe underground coming into the house. Drain and flush the tank and see if that helps. If not, a professional plumber can do a water heater inspection as well as check the other pipes and confirm the problem. 

To avoid unexpected problems with your water heater, inspections on a regular routine by you and annually by a  professional plumber can help. You’ll find small issues that can be corrected before they become big problems. Call 551-257-6200 today for your water heater inspection needs in Saddle Brook, NJ.