Updated at: 08-06-2022 - By: cnbusinessnews

When you’re used to having hot water, it’s easy to take it for granted—until you don’t. It is fortunate that hot water heaters don’t frequently go out on their own accord. As a result, it is vital that you not dismiss the warning signals of a malfunctioning hot water heater. Learn how to tell if your hot water heater is about to fail so you don’t have to deal with the inconvenience, damage, and expense of a breakdown.

What Causes a Hot Water Heater to Go Bad?

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the parts of your hot water heater before diving into the warning indications it is emitting. The water storage tank of a conventional water heater is enclosed in a protective coating. The burners for heating the water are contained in a pipe in the middle. Depending on whether they’re electric or gas-powered, they can be constructed in a variety of ways. The unit’s lifespan can be extended by using an anode rod to collect corrosive particles.

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Between 10 and 15 years, most hot water heaters are expected to last. The failure of a hot water heater can be caused by a variety of situations. Over time, anode rods wear out. Metal tanks can rust or leak. Occasionally, the heating elements in your home will cease working altogether. Occasionally, a component can be swapped out. It’s better to replace the entire unit if your hot water heater continues failing, especially if it’s been in service for more than ten years.

Signs Your Hot Water Heater Is Going to Fail

You may save money and time by learning how to detect if your hot water heater is on its last legs. You may wonder, “How can I tell if my water heater is faulty?” If you pay attention to the following warning signs, you may be able to avert a catastrophic failure of your water heater.

1. Water leaking from the heating tank

If your hot water heater is leaking, it’s time to replace it. The tank may drip or pool water under your equipment. Or perhaps there are leaks in the pipes.

Connections may be loose, or the valves may not be entirely closed. These parts can easily be tightened or replaced if they become loose. The only option you have if the tank is leaking is to replace the water heater.

2. Age of the water heater

Precautions should be taken if your equipment is old. In most cases, a date of installation is included on the label. To identify the date of manufacturing if it is not available, you can use the brand name and unit serial number to look it up online.

The cost of a new water heater can be reduced. ENERGY STAR ® appliances use less energy and heat water more quickly. In addition, newer units can fit into a smaller area.

3. Running out of hot water quickly

It’s possible for sediment to build up in your hot water heater’s tank if it hasn’t been cleansed recently or if your water contains a lot of sediment. Sediment has a way of reducing the amount of available hot water, which is why it runs out so quickly. It’s an obvious sign that your hot water heater is failing.

If you wait too long to repair the problem, you may wind up with clogged and corroded valves if you don’t flush the sediment out of the unit. If this happens, you’ll have to get a new one. If so, a tankless water heater may be a better option than a typical water heater.

4. Inconsistent water temperature in the shower

It’s a sure sign that your hot water heater has broken down if the temperature of your water fluctuates. If you’re lucky, the thermostat may simply need to be changed. There is a bigger problem if the heating elements are broken.

Once again, take into account the age of your device. It may be more cost-effective to replace it and get the benefits of a new, more efficient water heater.

5. Discolored water coming from faucets

Another common indicator of a failed hot water heater is murky or rusty water. A water heater tank’s corrosion-resistant coating does not persist indefinitely. Rust occurs quickly as the protective coating begins to wear away.

Rusty water is a sign that your hot water tank needs to be replaced. While it isn’t harmful to your health, it can cause discoloration and damage to electronic devices. In addition, it is unlikely to be pleasant to consume. Replacement of anode rods can extend the life of your device if your issue is minor. Also, think about flushing it.

6. Unusual noises coming from the water heater

If you hear weird noises coming from your hot water heater, it’s possible your water heater element has broken. A negative sign, but it could also be a sign of something else entirely. Sediment and mineral deposits may be blocking your digestive tract. Poor water flow or fluctuating water pressure in your home could be the cause of the problem. It is possible that valves and other connections may be loose.

Check your system out by hiring an expert to flush and inspect it. Because they’ll tell you whether or not your hot water heater is about to fail, they’ll also tell you how often you should have it serviced.

7. Lower water pressure

Sediment accumulates more quickly in homes with low water pressure. Hard water clogs systems more quickly than soft water, so that’s something to keep in mind. It is possible that your hot water heater and connections are clogged, resulting in low water pressure.

If your hot water heater is leaking, it’s one of the early warning indications that it needs to be repaired. You may be able to increase the lifespan of your unit if you address the problem early on.

Dealing with water heater failure

You should not disregard the warning signals that your hot water heater is on its way out. Be on the lookout for any of these symptoms, and get your system checked out by a professional as soon as possible. Also, if you’re in the market for a new water heater, think about getting one that’s more energy efficient. In order to save money on your utility bills, it is important to use ENERGY STAR ® and other energy-efficient equipment.

Check the Warranty

Limited warranties are included with all water heaters, whether they’re for the home or the office. The model and serial number can be found on the rating plate located on each tank. To verify if the tank has a prorated warranty, look at the year the tank was manufactured and the serial number on the tank. Do not hesitate to call the manufacturer if the tank has a leak or the element is defective. Field labor is not covered by manufacturer warranties. Before you begin diagnosing the issue, you can do this.


It is unsafe to work with electric water heaters when the power is on since they are high-voltage (240 volt) appliances. Before inspecting the water heater’s electrical components, turn off the heater’s circuit in your home’s service panel (breaker box). Before touching any of the heater’s wires, make sure the power is off by using a non-contact voltage tester on all of them.

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No Hot Water

One or more heating components may have failed in a water heater that is not producing hot water.

In the first place, make sure that the water heater’s circuit breaker in the service panel has not tripped. To reset a tripped breaker, turn it off and on again.

The heater’s high-temperature limit can be reset if the circuit breaker did not trip (or if the heater is still on).

  1. In the service panel, unplug the water heater’s circuit breaker.
  2. The water heater’s upper heating element access panel should be removed.
  3. Do not touch any wires or electrical components while removing the insulation and plastic safety protection.
  4. Select “Reset high temperature cutoff” from the drop-down menu and then “Red Button.”
  5. Remove the access panel, the safety guard, and the insulation.
  6. The heater’s circuit breaker should be turned on.
  7. This may not be enough to resolve the issue, in which case you should check and maybe replace each heating element.

Inadequate Hot Water

It’s possible that your water heater is too small to satisfy your household’s hot water needs if it’s providing hot water but not enough. Make certain that the water heater’s capacity is not exceeded by the anticipated usage.

How to Fix

75 percent of the water heater’s capacity should be reserved for hot water at all times. As an example, a 40-gallon tank water heater is adequate for a 30-gallon requirement. Showers should be limited in length, low-flow showerheads should be installed, and dishes and laundry should be done at different times of the day rather than all at once.

Either one or both of the heating elements may have failed if your device is not undersized or it is producing much less hot water than it was previously doing. The presence of lukewarm water in the shower is a sign that the upper heating element is malfunctioning. If your shower’s hot water runs out quickly, you may have a faulty bottom heating element.

Water Temperature Is Too Hot

It can be just as frustrating to have too much hot water as it is to have too little water. It’s possible that your water heater’s thermostats are set too high if you’re having this issue.

How to Fix

It’s time to look at the temperature settings.

  1. Disconnect the water heater’s power at the panel.
  2. Remove each heating element’s access panel, insulation, and plastic safety protection. Do not come into contact with any electrical wiring or connectors.
  3. Use a non-contact voltage tester on the cables to make sure the power has been turned off.
  4. Both thermostats should be set to the same temperature. The temperature should be the same for each of them. Between 115 and 125 degrees is the ideal temperature.
  5. Use a flathead screwdriver to fine-tune the temperature.
  6. Set the second thermostat to the same temperature as the first one.
  7. Protective barriers, insulation and access panels should be replaced for each component.
  8. The heater’s circuit breaker should be turned on.

Water Leaks

Most water leaks are the result of faulty valves and connections, but they can also be the result of issues with a tank. It is critical to remedy a water leak as quickly as possible since it can cause severe damage to a home.

How to Fix

Due to loose heating components or tank deterioration, leaking water heater tanks might occur. If necessary, use an element wrench to adjust any loose components.

Damaged tanks cannot be repaired and must be replaced. To halt the leak, turn off the water heater’s electricity and shut off the water supply. Then drain the tank fully.

Rust-Colored Water or Bad Odor

A brown, yellow, or red colour in the water coming out of your faucet indicates that corrosion is taking place in your water heater or in the pipes of your home. It is possible that the bacteria in the tank of your hot water heater is causing the stench of rotten eggs. 1 If the anode rod in your tank needs to be replaced, you’ll likely need to hire a plumber.

Tank Making Noises

Is your water heater making noises? The noise you’re hearing is deep and rumbling or popping. A high-pitched whine, perhaps? Boiling water may be making the noise you’re hearing. As a result of excessive sediment building at the tank’s bottom, it might become overheated, which causes the water to boil.

How to Fix

Draining the tank of sediment is the first thing to attempt. Otherwise, you may have to get a new tank.


How can you tell if a water heater element is bad?

Methods for Element Testing Turn off the electricity. It’s time to get rid of those metal covers. Take off the plastic and the insulation. The Heating Element can be found in the attic or basement. Make certain the power has been turned off by checking the breaker box. Use a Multimeter to Check the Heater Element. Take apart the Water Heater.

What does the reset button do on a hot water heater?

After 180 degrees Fahrenheit, your water heater’s reset button is activated, cutting off electricity to your appliance. ECO (emergency cut off) switch or “high limit safety thermostat switch” are other names for the reset button.

How do you know when to replace a hot water heater?

Water heaters that leak should be replaced as soon as they show signs of wear. If you hear a loud knocking noise, sediment has accumulated and needs to be removed. Rusty water is a sure sign that your system isn’t working properly.

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What happens when water is electrified?

It is extremely dangerous to swim in water that has been electrocuted. The electrical current that enters the water and paralyzes people’s muscles and causes them to drown is caused by defective wiring or poorly maintained equipment.

How long does water stay electrified?

Until the water’s electric supply is shut off or the electricity source is eliminated. Water is merely a conductor, not a storehouse of electricity. No matter what kind of substance you use, it has the same effect. While it is attached to an electrical source, it will continue to function.

How do you test for stray voltage in water?

How to Perform a Voltage Swap Test A voltage meter, either your own or borrowed, is a necessity. Select “120 AC Voltage” from the drop-down menu. Grounding is the third or “grounding” hole in an electrical outlet. Probe into the aquarium with the red metal tip. Keep an eye on the meter’s needle.

Why is my water heater not getting hot?

A blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker could be the cause of an electric water heater not providing hot water. Electric water heaters may have a defective or unplugged power cord as another simple fix. It could be as simple as running out of gas for gas water heaters.

Why is my hot water not getting hot?

One or more heating components may have failed in a water heater that is not producing hot water. In the first place, make sure that the water heater’s circuit breaker in the service panel has not tripped. To reset a tripped breaker, turn it off and on again.

What happens when a water heater goes bad?

Damage to the Water Heating System Big water leaks are one of the most common signs of a failing water heater. A minor leak, on the other hand, can cause extensive damage to your floors and subfloors as well as personal belongings. Damages from a water leak like that can run into the thousands of dollars.

What is the most common problem with water heaters?

The most typical problem you’ll have with your water heater is a leak. If your water heater is exposed to water, it can ultimately corrode and develop microscopic cracks or fractures that will leak. However, this does not always mean that the leak is coming from your tank.

How do I reset my electric hot water heater?

You’ll find a reset button anywhere on your electric water heater. In most cases, it’s red, and it’s usually situated near the thermostat. Insulation may also cover a metal panel on the unit that may be removed. Push and release the button once you’ve located it.

What is the average life of a water heater?

What kind of water heater do you have, and where are you? Standard gas water heaters typically have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years, however this might vary widely depending on your location. Your water heater’s longevity is influenced by the amount of silt in the tank.

How many years does a water heater last?

Before your water leaks and damages your home, it would be helpful to know when the time is appropriate to get a new one. Six to 13 years is the typical lifespan of a home hot water heater. You’ve only got 12 more years to live, so make the most of it!

Can I replace my hot water heater myself?

A hot water heater can be installed by a homeowner, but the chances of this being a good or safe idea are small. Installing a hot water heater is a job best left to the specialists. Your family and you deserve nothing but the best.

Can you survive electrified water?

When a person’s diaphragm is paralyzed, they will die from suffocation, but in other circumstances, the shock renders the swimmer incapable and they will drown. Faulty wiring on boats or piers allows electric current to seep into the water, which is the primary cause of electric shock drownings.

Can a battery in water electrocute you?

A person swimming in water with a fully charged battery will only be at risk from harmful compounds seeping from the battery if they do so. They won’t get electrocuted because of the low voltages involved. It’s also important to note that the current will be drawn from one terminal to the next.


We can’t imagine our regular routines without hot water. When it’s not there, things can come to a halt at home. This means that water heater failure is a serious issue that has to be addressed as soon as possible.

It’s not enough to be sensitive; you also need to know what you’re doing and how to do it correctly. When your water heater isn’t working properly, it might be an annoyance. When having a bath, you don’t have to put up with the cold; all you have to do is know and check for yourself.