Your home's water heater sees heavy usage each and every day, and just like every other appliance in your home, this general wear and tear can take a toll over time, reducing the overall effectiveness of your water heater. At a certain point, your water heater can be so degraded that it is no longer able to effectively operate. At this point, you'll want to get in touch with a plumber to replace the unit and get your hot water flowing properly again as soon as possible.
Strange Smell and Taste
The first sign that there may be an issue with your water heater is if you notice that there is an odd smell or taste associated with the hot water, but not the cold water. This can point to a buildup of sediment within the water heater's tank, which causes metallic flakes and minerals to dissolve into the hot water that is being provided throughout your home. Catching this early may mean that you can get away with flushing your water heater's tank to remove the majority of the sediment; however, if the problem is well established, a large portion of your tank is likely already filled up and thus will need to be replaced with a new one.
Another clear sign that your water heater is now on its last legs is if you find that the hot water runs out very quickly when compared to before. This can be caused by one of two reasons: either a significant amount of sediment has built up within the base of your water heater's tank, which reduces the amount of water that your water heater can hold at one time; or the heating elements themselves have begun to burn out and are no longer able to effectively heat the water. In any case, replacing the unit entirely may be the best way to restore the effectiveness of your hot water system.
Finally, the last and most important sign that you should get in touch with a plumber straight away is if you notice that there are signs of water damage or actual sitting water around the base of your water heater's tank. This can point to a leak in the water heater itself, which can cause a great deal of water damage beyond reducing the effectiveness and efficiency of your unit whether it's located in your basement or wherever.