Water that comes out of your tap should always be safe and clean to drink, cook, and wash with, but that's not always the case. If you've noticed that cold water seems to look and smell normal but that when you turn on the hot water that it either looks or smells off, this could mean that there's something wrong with your hot water heater. Here's what you should know.
Typically, hot water heaters are sealed off, preventing anything from getting inside of them. However, if this seal is damaged, it's possible for external things to get into the water. In this case, the likely culprit is bacteria.
When bacteria develops in the hot water heater, it essentially contaminates the entire supply of water in the tank. Since the tank never completely empties, it's very difficult to get rid of the bacteria without the help of a plumber. However, a plumber can come out and inspect the water heater to look for leaks, and can then drain and flush the water heater to get rid of the bacteria for good.
Another common problem is having water come out looking brown, or dark. If it isn't happening with the cold water supply, then it likely isn't your pipes. Instead, what's most likely happened is that the inside of your hot water heater is rusting.
Water heaters are designed to last for a long time, but if you keep them long enough, corrosion is all but guaranteed to occur on the inside of the tank. When this happens, rust can break off into the water supply and can discolor the water. This is usually still safe to use, but it can lead to an unpleasant appearance. To be sure, get in touch with a plumber to have the water tank examined as well as testing the water to ensure that it's safe to use.
Lastly, sometimes iron can leach into the water the same way that rust does; due to corrosion in the tank. When this happens, the water may be slightly discolored, but the most noticeable change is likely that the water tastes off. It may have a metallic flavor to it, like licking a penny. Typically, iron in water isn't a danger for adults, but it may lead to an excessive amount of iron consumed for children. As with other corrosion problems, it's best to call a plumber to find out what's going on and to get control of the situation.
To learn more information, reach out to a plumber about water heater repair near you.