All of a sudden – or more likely the problem started small and got worse with time – you have an issue with your water heater.  There’s not enough hot water, or NO hot water.  Maybe your hot water smells a little funny or has a rust colored tinge to it.  Maybe you even have water on the floor of your Crown Point, Chesterton, or Dyer basement.

Ok, first things first.  BE SAFE.  This article is on troubleshooting water heater problems, and although I’ll suggest how to fix the issue, this is by no means a comprehensive step-by-step repair plan.  If at any point you become “a little iffy” around a troubled water heater call in a professional.  You may very well be an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, but accidents do happen, and more often than not they happen at home.  Now, if you’re one to dig a little deeper into the issue a little home safety review is in order.  If you have an electric water heater be sure to turn it off by cutting power at your circuit/fuse box.  For gas water heaters turn the burner setting to pilot.  Then, for all heaters turn off the water supply to the heater.  On to the diagnostics:

Rust colored water:  Either the sacrificial anode rod has deteriorated (by design) to the point of necessary replacement or there is corrosion inside the water tank.  Most often this can be fixed by replacing the old rod with a new magnesium anode rod.

Smell:  The rotten egg odor you have is a bacteria growing on the inside of the tank.  The bacteria is being kept alive by feeding off the hydrogen gas emitted by the corroding anode rod.  You’ll need to flush out the tank with hydrogen peroxide and probably also replace the old anode with a new magnesium anode.  If the problem persists you may have to replace the tank lining as well.

We’ll continue the diagnostic next blog with the issues of little and no hot water, and discuss leaking water collecting at the base of the heater.