Before buying a house, often people know they should take a good look at the roof and foundation to ensure they are in good shape. These steps are, in fact, important. But there is another part of the home that deserves a good once-over before you buy: the hot water heater. While replacing a hot water heater is not the most expensive endeavor, it's not cheap, either — so you don't want to buy a home only to learn the water heater is on its last legs. Here are the key things to check over as you examine the water heater.
Drops of Moisture Near the Valves
Hot water heaters have at least three valves. There is a valve where the cold water comes into the tank and a second valve where the hot water leaves the tank. Then, there is a third valve, usually located near the top, called the pressure release valve. This valve is meant to let air and water escape if the pressure in the tank gets too high. Any one of these valves can spring a leak. If there are drops of water around any of the valves, then they are already leaking.
Definitely tell the owner of the home about the leaky valves on the water tank. At any minute, the leak could intensify, leading to more extensive water damage. The owner should either have the tank replaced or repaired before selling the home.
Rust in the Hot Water
When you're looking around the home, stop by the bathroom and turn on the hot water tap. Pay close attention to the first water that comes out. If that water is rust-colored, then the hot water tank could be starting to rust out. This means more extensive leaks could be just days or weeks away. Rust could also indicate a problem with the pipes, but typically, the rust will show up in both the hot and the cold water when this is the case.
Rattling When It Heats
If the hot water heater happens to kick on while you're touring the home, take a close listen. Do you hear any rattling or rumbling noises as the water heats? If so, this is a sign that there is sediment in the water tank. Sometimes, this just means the tank needs to be drained, but other times, it may mean that parts inside are corroding. So, it's wise to have a plumber take a look before you buy.
If you don't want to replace a hot water heater soon after buying a home, look it over for these signs of advanced age and wear.
For more information about water heaters, contact a local plumber.