Signs That Your Water Heater Is In Trouble

Posted on: 11 July 2015


Water heaters don't usually give out without any warning. Knowing the signs of impending trouble can help you avoid a repair or replacement at an inopportune time, such as in the middle of a dinner party. This guide can help you not just diagnose the potential for problems, but help you decide whether it's better to repair or replace.

Use Age as a Guide

Although water heater lifespans can vary, heaters require replacement every 10 years on average. It may be time to start planning for a replacement, or at least a major repair, if your heater is approaching or has surpassed this age. If you don't know the age of your heater, check the side. Often there is a sticker with the manufacture or installation date on it.

Poor Heating

The water coming out of your taps should be the same temperature as the setting on the water heater. You can use a simple food thermometer to verify that they match. If the water is cooler or isn't holding an even temperature, the elements could be going bad. These can often be replaced. If the water won't heat at all, the heater may need to be replaced or the pilot light may be out.


A leaking tank is a sure sign that it's time to replace a heater, but even slow leaks indicate a problem. Check the drip tray beneath your hot water heater periodically to make sure there is no moisture. It's time to call in a repair technician if you find even a small amount of water in the tray. 

Loud Sounds

Pops, cracks, and pinging sounds may occur sometimes, but frequent or consistent sounds indicate a problem. Often, these sounds are caused by sediment build-up in the bottom of the tank. Water percolating through this sediment or the sediment hitting the sides of the tank results in the noise. A repair technician can sometimes drain and remove the sediment, although replacement may be a more cost effective option if your heater is older and will require replacement soon.

Odd Flavor

Sometimes hot water develops an odd metallic flavor, which isn't present in cold water. Once again, this is often caused by sediment in the water. Scheduling a draining and service call may be all that's needed to fix the problem.

Hot water heaters can benefit from an annual inspection. During this service the technician usually drains and flushes the tank, and then they verify that there are no imminent leaks around attachments and that the elements are working properly. This type of service can save you money by preventing future repairs or premature replacements. Click here for more information on water heater repair