7 Signs of Water Heater Failure

No water heater lasts forever. Sooner or later, your unit will need to be replaced. If you know what to look for, you’ll often see warning signs that your water heater is on the verge of failure before it dies.

As water damage to your home can be costly and messy, it’s worth staying alert to the condition of your water heater and taking action if you see signs that it’s about to fail.

Having no hot water is a major inconvenience, especially when your water heater fails unexpectedly.

Here are seven signs of water heater failure to watch for, so you can replace your water heater promptly before any damage occurs:

1. A shortage of hot water.

If your hot water runs out quickly or the water is only getting warm rather than hot, it could be a warning sign that your water heater is about to fail.

Unless the size of your household has suddenly increased and everyone’s showering at once, your water heater should be providing plenty of hot water for your needs. If it isn’t, your unit’s not working as it should and might be close to failing.

A lack of hot water could be caused by mineral and sediment buildup around the heating element or an electrical problem. It’s a sign that something’s wrong with your water heater, and you need to take action.

Chas Roberts can perform regular maintenance on your water heater to extend its life and help avoid any problems. Regular maintenance saves you money on energy costs, too, as a well-maintained water heater doesn’t have to work as hard to produce hot water.

2. Water leaking from the water heater.

It’s a good idea to regularly check the area around your water heater for any signs of a leak that could cause severe water damage in your home. If you see water dripping from or pooling around your water heater, it may mean that the tank is corroded, and the unit is beyond repair and needs to be replaced.

Leaks can also occur if the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve, which prevents the temperature or pressure in the unit from building up too high, is corroded or has mineral buildup. As the TPR is a safety feature of your water heater, it needs to work correctly.

If your water heater is leaking, it needs professional servicing or replacement as soon as possible. A leaking water heater is not a problem you want to neglect.

3. Discolored or cloudy water.

Cloudy water indicates that contaminants or sediments are flowing from your water heater, and it’s a sign that your unit is close to failing. Sometimes the water will also have a metallic smell from the contaminants it contains.

Those sediments can clog pipes, lower water pressure, and cause damage.

Rust-colored water is a sign of corrosion in your water heater or pipes. If your water heater is corroded, it will soon be leaking if it isn’t already.

You shouldn’t ignore changes in the color or smell of the water in your home. It’s an indication that there’s a serious problem with your water heater that needs immediate professional attention.

4. Water temperature fluctuates.

If it seems that your water temperature is unpredictable, sometimes you have hot water, and other times it’s only lukewarm, your water heater has a problem.

Fluctuating water temperature is more than an annoyance; it’s a warning sign. There could be a problem with the water heater thermostat, or varying water temperatures could indicate that your water heater is on the verge of failure.

Either way, it’s best to get a professional evaluation so you can repair or replace your water heater.

5. Water heater is making strange noises.

If your water heater makes strange sounds like rumbling or popping, it’s probably close to failing.

Minerals and sediments can harden inside the tank, making noise, forcing the unit to work harder, and causing possible damage to the heating element. Once it’s reached this point, your water heater works less efficiently and uses more energy.

The hardened sediment layer will thicken until the water heater stops working altogether.

Don’t ignore the noises. Your water heater is giving you a sign it’s about to fail.

6. Age.

Water heaters don’t last indefinitely. Eventually, even a water heater that’s been working just fine for years will need replacement.

Regular maintenance will extend the life of your water heater, but if it’s over ten years old, it’s on borrowed time.

You can tell the age of your water heater from the manufacturer’s label on the side of the unit or by the serial number.

The pros at Chas Roberts can help you choose a new, more energy-efficient water heater that will provide you with hot water for years to come.

7. Costly repairs.

It’s not costly to maintain your water heater.

However, if you find that you have to replace worn parts on the unit frequently and those costs are adding up, you’re probably better off buying a new water heater.

Water heaters have improved a lot over the years, so buying a new energy-efficient model is more cost-effective than paying for expensive repairs on an older unit.


Water heaters that have any of the problems listed above are giving us signs that we shouldn’t ignore.

Problems with your water heater won’t get better on their own. The best time to replace your water heater is before it leaks and fails, causing costly damage to your home.

The plumbing pros at Chas Roberts can give you an honest evaluation of whether they can repair your water heater or it’s best to replace it.

Chas Roberts

Family-owned and operated Chas Roberts has served the valley for over 75 years and is Arizona’s largest HVAC and plumbing provider. Our highly skilled technicians provide affordable quality service for all your HVAC and plumbing needs. Contact us for honest, reliable service.