Your water heater is one of the most reliable appliances in your home, but mechanical problems can sometimes occur. Being caught off-guard by a water heater breakdown could lead to an inconvenient shortage of hot water or even major water damage. Read on to learn three signs it's time for water heater repair.

1. Water Quality Problems

Damage to your water heater will have a direct impact on the quality of your hot water. If your water isn't hot at all, it's possible that the heating element inside your water heater is burnt out. Sometimes, hot water may fluctuate in temperature due to a power supply issue or sediment obstructing the heating element.

You should also keep watch on the appearance and smell of your hot water. Corrosion or sediment in the hot water tank may make your water appear cloudy or rusty with a chemical-like odor. You might also see impurities in your hot water that look like grains of sand or flakes of rust.

2. Corroded or Leaking Tank

When corrosion is visible on your hot water tank, it usually means the situation inside the tank is worse. Water heater tanks have interior linings that are meant to discourage rust, so the lining has usually failed if the tank has begun to corrode. A damaged tank lining is a reason to replace your hot water tank.

The severity of a water heater leak depends on where it's occurring. A leak near the top of your tank is usually caused by a faulty inlet or outlet valve. Leaks around the bottom of the tank may be the result of a faulty drain valve or a breach in the tank itself. Water heater valves can easily be replaced, but a tank leak requires a new water heater.

3. Unusual Noises

Take note of any unusual noises you hear around your water heater, as they can point to specific problems. For example, a popping or rumbling noise may be caused by bubbles forming under a layer of sediment in the hot water tank. As the bubbles rise, they cause the sediments to move around noisily.

A sizzling noise could be the result of condensation inside your water heater. Condensation on the outside of the tank is normal when there is a drastic temperature difference between the tank and the surrounding room. However, internal condensation indicates a leak that requires replacing the water heater.

Recognizing the signs of water heater problems will help you take action before they become more costly to repair. Call a local company like Quality Plumbing if you notice any of these symptoms of water heater problems.