4 Warning Signs of a Failing Water Heater

Do you know when your water heater is at the end of its life?

If you do, then you are either a plumber or a very proud homeowner who has done their homework!

If not, there’s no need to fret. We have all of the information you need to know about a failing water heater right here in this blog for you.

It’s important to know this information because the last thing you want is to come home to a flooded downstairs because of a burst water heater.

old and failing water heater

Warning Signs of a Failing Water Heater

1) Your Water Heater is Old

Old is a relative term, but in the case of your water heater — old is anything older than a decade. If your water heater is around the 10-year mark, you may want to have it inspected by a plumber to see how efficiently it is performing.

From here, your plumber can tell you how much useful life it has left before you should consider a replacement. Now, of course, water heaters can last longer than 10 years, but its efficiency can decrease which will lead to higher energy bills.

Check the serial number located on the water heater’s sticker — the letter (month) and two numbers (year) at the beginning of the serial number represent the month and year it was manufactured.

  • Example:
    • C07 = March 2007
    • G11 = July 2011

2) The Water Looks Funky

Pay close attention to the warm and hot water coming out of your faucets. A muddy or rusty color can signal that your water heater is extremely close to the end of its life.

This change in the color, taste, and composition of your water is likely due to an increased amount of sediment in the water. Have your water heater flushed of its water and sediment to see if this is why your water has changed.

If these issues still exist, the water heater could be breaking down and rusting on the inside of the tank. Eventually, the rusted area will turn into a hole and that’s when you will be forced to replace your water heater.

3) Something Sounds Wrong

Visual inspections can tell you a lot about your water heater, but you can also tell something is wrong by listening closely! As the water heater begins heating water, keep your ears open for any unfamiliar, loud, or strange sounds coming from this plumbing fixture.

These loud “bangs,” “pops,” and “cracks” are noises that usually occur when there’s a lot of sediment buildup within the tank of the water heater. As the internal heating components start increasing in temperature, the interaction between them and the sediment can create loud noises.

If your water heater hasn’t been flushed in a long time, then this should be done. However, if the unit is near the end of its useful life, a flush might not be enough to save your water heater.

4) Hot Water is Nowhere to Be Found

The point of a water heater is to heat water — obviously! So when your water heater is failing to do this, there can be a few things wrong with it:

  • The pilot light is out (or broken)
  • The circuit breaker tripped
  • There’s too much sediment in the tank
  • There’s a broken part (thermocouple, thermostat, heating element, etc.)

For water heaters closer to the 10-year mark, the reason you have no hot water could be a combination of these reasons. If you have needed multiple repairs in the last year or two, the most cost-effective solution is to have the water heater replaced altogether.

What is the Best Option?

For those in need of a replacement water heater, your best option is to replace your old one with a new tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters are the most cost-effective option in terms of energy savings. They provide you with hot water on-demand, rather than heating an entire tank of water.

We recommend Navien, as we feel they are the most reliable tankless water heaters on the market. With many different models available, we can help you choose the model that is perfect for your home and family!

When you’re in need of water heater maintenance, repair, or full replacement, be sure to give us a call — we know a thing or two about plumbing!