The water that comes from your water heater should be of similar quality as that which goes in, but sometimes problems in the heater can compromise water quality. Discovering the issues is necessary if you hope to have your water heater repaired.

1. Mineral Buildup

Hard minerals that are naturally present in your water supply can precipitate out in the hot water inside the heater tank. They then resolidify on the tank walls, where they can flake off and enter the water supply. Sometimes this leads to discolored water, foul flavors, or even gritty residue in the water. Having the tank flushed will remove the minerals while adding a water softener will prevent future accumulation. 

2. Tank Corrosion

Rusty-colored water or water that appears brown is caused by rust and corrosion either in the tank or on one of the components in the tank. This isn't just a water quality issue, since rust can lead to holes in the tank itself. The result will be a water leak. If you notice rust in the water, schedule an immediate water heater inspection. You may need to replace the component or the tank.

3. Bacterial Growth

Bacteria blooms can occur in the water if the temperature isn't set high enough to kill off the bacteria, or if a malfunction in the heating system fails to heat the water sufficiently. Water can be discolored or it may feel slimy. You may also notice an off odor, frequently an eggy smell, or the odor of dirty socks. Bacterial growth can be a health hazard. A technician must find the cause for the bloom and fix it. The tank will also need to be flushed and cleaned.

4. Plastic Impurities

Bits of plastic in your water flow can be alarming. You may find the bits in a sink after running a tap, or they may block up the aerator screens in a faucet. The plastic comes from the degradation of components inside the water heater. Temperature gauges, valves, and sections of the dip tube assembly may have plastic components. If these components break, the plastic ends up in the water supply. Replacing the damaged components and flushing to remove the pieces are necessary.

5. Sulfur Odors

The smell of sulfur or rotting eggs in the hot water is most often caused by an interaction between softened water and a magnesium anode rod in the tank, so you will likely only have this issue if you have a water softener hooked into the supply lines. Removing the magnesium rod and replacing it with an alternative material is a simple fix.

Contact a water heater repair service for more assistance.