Hand adjusting a water heater in a Washington, DC home.

Warning Signs That Your Water Heater is Failing

Enjoying your hot showers and ease of daily chores? That’s the effect hot water has on your home! Hot water is a necessity many of us take for granted… until our water heater breaks down.

To avoid an unexpected calamity, inspect your water heater for signs of damage so you can call us for a water heater repair! A failing water heater doesn’t just deny you hot water—it can also cause a huge flood in your home. Then, you’ll be stuck paying for a water heater replacement and water damage restorations.

If you’re unsure of how to tell if a water heater is bad, there’s no reason to panic. Here are the five most common warning signs of water heater failure to keep in mind.

Old Age

One of the top warning signs of water heater failure is old age. Most water heaters last between 8 to 12 years, with 10 being the average age.

If you moved into a new home, you might not know how to tell if a water heater is bad due to old age. Fortunately, you can check the water heater’s serial number. This number, printed by the manufacturer, is often located on the upper part of the tank.

In most instances, the first two digits of the serial number signify the manufacturing year. For example, if the first two numbers are 09, the water heater was manufactured in 2009. However, keep in mind that most companies use different serial number formats. You can use Google to decode the serial number for your specific brand and determine the age of your water heater.

Water Leaks

Leaks are also one of the leading warning signs of water heater failure. When you inspect the water heater, you might see water dripping from pipes, pooling on the floor, or leaking from the tank.

Water leaks can be caused due to a faulty pressure relief valve, which a professional technician can replace. Additionally, this problem can sometimes be fixed by tightening connectors and pipes. However, if the hot water tank itself is leaking, it is a telltale sign that it’s time to replace the water heater.

It’s crucial to address water leaks as soon as possible to avoid costly water damage. Contact a D.C. water heater expert for a water heater replacement or repair service.

Water Discoloration

If you want to know how to tell if a water heater is bad, look at the color of your hot water. Discolored water that looks murky or rusty can indicate that it’s time for a water heater replacement. Rusty water can be a sign that the pipes are corroding or the metal inside the tank is rusting, meaning leaks can appear at any time.

Murky water can be an early indication that the system will break down. This strange-looking water results from mineral deposit buildup, which can eventually damage the system’s components—leading to eventual failure.

Hot Water Shortage

You want warm water when you take a shower, not water that’s only lukewarm, or worse—water that’s cold. If your hot water runs out quickly, sediment buildup within the tank could be to blame. Fortunately, flushing the tank can often solve this problem when caught early enough. You can also avoid sediment buildup with regular maintenance services.

If your water heater seems to have trouble heating water, your water heater might have a cracked dip tube. Alternatively, if your water temperature is always cold, you could have a faulty heating element. In most cases, an experienced technician can fix these problems.

Unusual Sounds

One of the most common warning signs of water heater failure is tapping, popping, or knocking noises. These strange sounds can be caused by a defective heating element or sediment buildup.

When sediment builds up, it can make strange noises when the water is heated. Removing sediment buildup by flushing the hot water heater can help eliminate this issue. If a faulty heating element is to blame, you’ll likely need to replace the heating element.

Ready to Replace Your Water Heater?

Now that you know the most common warning signs of water heater failure, you might want to try troubleshooting your water heater. Take the proper precautions before working with your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, ensure that you extinguish the pilot light, and if you have an electric system, unplug or switch off the unit at the circuit breaker.

Whether you only get cold water from your water heater or notice strange noises, it might be time to replace the system. The Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling experts know how to tell if a water heater is bad and needs replacing. We proudly offer tank and tankless water heater installations to fit your needs.

Contact us today for all of your D.C. electric water heater needs!