Hot water tanks don't fail overnight; the damages and malfunctions start bit by bit until the tank can no longer provide hot water or becomes a dangerous installation. You are probably thinking that it would be a great idea to know if your tank was headed for failure, and the good news is that there are. Here are some of those early warning signs:
Rumbling Noises from the Tank
A noisy water tank is one of the earliest signs of a failing water tank; this is especially true if they are rumbling noises. It usually means that there is a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank. As the temperature inside the tank rises, moisture trapped within the sediment expands into steam and bursts out of the gunk, causing the rumbling noises.
However, the main problem is not with the rumbling noises; it is what they signify – the sediment at the bottom of the tank. These sediments insulate the water from the tank, which means you have to use more energy to heat the water. The extra work also accelerates the wear and tear of the tank material, which can lead to premature failure.
The Hot Water Is Rusty in Color
If you are getting rusty water from your pipes, the first thing is to determine whether it is both cold and hot water or it is just the hot water that is rusty. If only the hot water is rusty, then the problem is definitely coming from the tank. It usually means that the tank is rusty; this is especially true if the water pipes are made from materials that don't rust easily. A hot water tank can rust due to age or poor maintenance; for example, if you fail to flush your water tank regularly, the buildup of sediment may accelerate the corrosion of the tank. In the long run, your hot water tank may even start to leak.
Signs of Moisture around the Tank
Lastly, you should also suspect that your water tank is malfunctioning or about to fail you completely if you have started noticing moist places around it. First, however, confirm that the pipes, connections, and seals are not the problems. You can do this by drying up all the moisture and using tissue paper to detect where the moisture first starts appearing. If the moisture is coming from the tank itself, then it means it has developed micro-fractures, such as those caused by wear and tear (regular expansion and contraction will do that).
Contact a plumbing contractor for help.