Problems with your water heater are usually just an inconvenience, which means you can call the plumber during normal business owners. There are a few situations, though, that are considered an emergency.
Extreme Heat Increase
A water heater is usually set to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to destroy bacteria, but not so hot as to cause burns to those using the water. If the temperature is too hot and no one has adjusted the settings, then the water heater is malfunctioning. If the temperature continues to rise, steam and pressure will build up in the water heater tank. This pressure buildup can causes a water heater to burst, sometimes with dangerous and explosive force. Turn off power to the water heater and contact a plumber.
Whistling or Screaming Noises
Occasional bumps and bangs from the water heater are no reason for concern, but if you hear any loud whistling or other high pitched noises you need to act quickly to shut down power to the heater. These noises mean that pressure is building in the tank, with a small amount escaping to create the noise. High pitched sounds can be indicative of an impending bursting of the tank or a nearby pipe, both dangerous if they occur.
Dripping Overflow Valves
Another sign of pressure buildup is if the overflow valve is leaking. This valve is located on top of the water heater, but it typically has a pipe attached that routes the water to the floor or into a drain. The valve is on top of the tank because water will only reach it to leak out in the event of high pressure and steam in the tank. This is another situation where power needs to be turned off to the heater until a plumber can make repairs.
No one wants to walk into their home and find standing water around the water heater. A large amount of water means the tank has cracked open or burst. The water must be addressed immediately to prevent water damage, and the heater will require replacement. A small amount of water may not seem like a big deal, but if not quickly addressed the entire contents of the tank may leak out and cause major damage.
Rotten Egg Odors
If you have a gas powered hot water heater, then the main danger concern is a gas leak. If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur near the heater, turn off the gas valve and leave the home. Don't make a call from within the house, as static from the electronics in the phone can ignite the gas. Wait to call the plumber and gas company until after you and your family leave the home.
If you notice any of these signs, you need to contact an emergency plumber immediately. Consider reaching out to a professional like those at PlumbRite for further questions you may have.