Common Bad Water Heater Symptoms

San Rafael

(415) 942-6565

Santa Rosa

(707) 452-3464

Water heaters are vital appliances for any home, serving as a critical component of our everyday tasks, such as showering and washing dishes. Because of this, it is important to know when things could be going wrong and what you can do to fix them. The life of a typical hot water heater can last anywhere between 8 and 12 years, though it depends on the type and quality of the unit as well as how often you keep up with maintenance. Some people might consider replacing a hot water heater before it fails. This decision will depend on the individual, like how old the unit is, how much use it gets, and how many problems are popping up over time.

Colored realistic water heater boiler composition with two isolated and different equipment and pipes vector illustration

Every hot water heater will fail eventually. Among the most common reasons for this are sediment buildup, corrosion, loose connections, and incorrect pressure levels. Today’s blog post will focus on the risks of a failing hot water heater, the signs your water heater might be going bad, and the benefits of upgrading to a new hot water heater rather than continuing to use a failing unit. All signs of water heater failure, from a small leak to large tank damage, can be detrimental to your home.

The Risks Of A Failing Hot Water Tank

Whether it is because your hot water heater is past its life expectancy or there is something internally faulty, there are many risk factors involved with a malfunctioning hot water heater unit.

Mold and Water Damage

Mold growth is a great risk from hot water heaters that are prone to leaks. Water dripping out of your hot water heater can effect everything in the vicinity of the unit. A leaking hot water heater will not only be an easy place for mold to grow and damage your health and home, but water damage can also be a result, damaging your floors, walls, and personal belongings. Seeing water damage or mold around the water heater is one of the biggest signs of a leak in the tank.

Blocked Valves and Overheating

There are various valves in a hot water heater that control the flow of water to the pipes and throughout the system. If sediment increases or the pressure in the tank isn’t maintained, this can cause the valves to become blocked from the buildup. This greatly affects your access to hot water. Sediment buildup can also cause the tank to overheat in an attempt to bring the water to the desired temperature, resulting in scalding water or possibly fires.

Electrical Shortages

For electric water heaters, the heating element, among other electrical components, can short circuit if they are older or improperly installed. This can lead to outages if the fuse blows or the breaker is tripped.

Warning Signs Of Hot Water Heater Failure

Knowing and keeping an eye out for the signs your hot water heater is going bad is a crucial part of knowing when repair or replacement is necessary and keeping hot water functioning properly in your house. These are the red flags that may indicate your hot water heater is going bad:

1) Odd Noises

Unusual noises from a water heater could include extremely loud popping, rumbling, or banging. These strange sounds could be a sign that the water heater is going bad and should be looked at or replaced. These sounds could be due to mineral deposits, hard water, or sediment that have built up at the bottom of the tank, which can sometimes be remedied by flushing out the tank. But if you have an older hot water heater, it is most likely a sign of impending failure.

2) Inconsistent Water Temperature and Pressure

Running out of hot water or having low water pressure could be a sign of sediment buildup as well, since sediment taking up space in the water tank can leave less room for the actual water that it can heat. It is also possible that there is a problem with the thermostat and that it is not properly communicating the desired water temperature. The heating elements could also be damaged, resulting in poor water flow and a low hot water supply, since this would prevent the system from being able to properly heat the water in the tank. When this problem occurs in tankless water heaters, it probably means there is an electrical problem.

3) Water Leaking

A water heater leaking from the bottom of the tank can mean there is an excessive buildup of sediment or the tank is worn out. Since water expands as it heats, it puts pressure on the tank and could result in damage if the water heater tank is older. A leak can also occur because of a corroded anode rod in the tank. Leaking valves are especially dangerous, particularly valves such as the TPR valve. The TPR valve, or temperature and pressure relief valve, is what keeps a hot water heater from overheating and exceeding the pressure limit to the point of exploding.

4) Discolored or Strange-Smelling Water

Rusty water coming out of your faucets could be an indication of a corroded anode rod. The anode rod is what attracts the minerals to keep them from settling into the water, but it can easily become corroded from all of this material after a few years. Once the anode rod is corroded, the tank will soon follow. If you notice the water has a strange smell to it, it is possible that bacteria have begun to grow in the water tank. The water might also have a metallic taste as well. This is one of the biggest signs your water heater is going bad and can be extremely hazardous to your health.

5) Repairs and Energy Bills Increase

If you notice that you are having to conduct repairs on your hot water heater more often or that your utility bills have inexplicably risen, it is a good indication that your water heater unit is not as energy efficient as it once was and most likely needs to be replaced. It is a good idea to always keep in mind the age of your hot water heater, since all water heaters will reach the end of their life at some point and will need to be replaced. Frequent repairs and a rise in energy bills could mean that the water heater is taking a lot more energy to try to run properly, and if this is consistent despite numerous repairs, you will most likely have to replace it.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it is best to investigate as soon as you can before the problem worsens.

Benefits of Upgrading Your Water Heater

Though getting a new hot water heater to replace your old unit may feel daunting, there are many benefits that far outweigh the costs and hassle. The newer hot water heaters will have increased energy efficiency to heat your water as technology continues to improve and can possibly have longer lifespans as well. They will also have better water capacity for households and better safety features that can protect your home from damage.

For professional assistance with all things related to hot water heaters, you can contact John Owens Services, an experienced plumber when it comes to replacing water heaters. When you think your water heater is going bad, you can call on us to replace any tank, tankless, gas, or electric water heater with excellence. If you have a leaking water heater, a bad heating element, cold water, or bad water pressure, you can rely on our team to inspect all of the plumbing elements of your hot water heater, help you decide whether to repair or replace, and offer you a wide range of replacement options. Whenever we install a replacement, we won’t leave you with a cold shower from a water heater incapable of heating water. We make sure every part of your new water heater is working properly.

There are several factors that indicate your current water heater could be on its last leg, from strange noises to a flooded basement. What may seem minor at first could turn into major damage if not attended to, such as gas leaks if you have a gas water heater. In order to hang onto the much-needed benefit of hot showers, watch out for the signs of water heater failure, keep in mind the age of your water heater, and if you suspect that water heater failure may be nearing, look into what some options for replacing it might be so that you can be prepared when the time comes.

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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464



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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464