Signs of Hot Water Heater Failure



The lack of hot water to most people may be the only sign of a hot water heater problem. But signs of hot water heater failure could be far more complex. There are multiple signs to look out for. You could notice some, but other signs will be harder to identify. Below are some signs that your hot water heater is beginning to fail. If you’re able to take note of these signs immediately, you could possibly avoid expensive repairs.

1. Discolored Water at Faucets

There’s a component inside your hot water heater called an anode rod. The anode rod helps to keep the tank from corrosion. Anode rods can rust before the end of the hot water heater tank’s useful lifetime. They usually will need to be replaced a couple of times during the life of the tank. When you start seeing rusty or dirty looking water coming out of the faucets, that’s a sign that the anode rod is no longer working, and your tank could be corroding.

2. Hot Water Stinks

You could notice that your hot water is starting to smell like a rotten egg. The rotten egg smell could be the cause of a few reasons. But one of the reasons could be from inside the hot water heater. An interaction between the anode rod and a bacterium in the water could create this smell. When your hot water starts to stink, it would be a good idea to call a plumber to come out and check.

3. Water Leaking From Tank

A damp spot or puddle on the floor is an indication that your hot water heater is leaking. Leaking can start to happen when sediment builds up inside the tank or it can be from old age of the hot water heater, as a result it is starting to deteriorate. Once you notice leaking around the seems of the tank, it may be time to replace the tank. If you see that the temperature pressure relief valve (TPRV) is leaking, that could be a sign that the inside of the tank is experiencing high levels of pressure. This could become dangerous, and a plumber should be called out to check.

4. Tank Making Strange Noises

It’s normal to hear sounds come from your hot water heater in the process of the water being heated inside the tank. But sometimes noises are a sign that your hot water heater is starting to fail. Sediment buildup inside the tank could be making it hard for your hot water heater to function properly. The noise that you’re hearing could very well be from sediment inside the tank. Flushing out any minerals or sediment helps the tank operate more efficiently. It’s important that you follow the instructions that come with your hot water heater, and flush water out of the tank according to the instructions.

5. Hot Water Runs Out Quick

Commonly, hot water heaters are supposed to be drained every year. Depending on your hot water heater instructions, it could be more often, follow those instructions. If you avoid this important maintenance task, sediment could start to take up space in the tank, leaving less space for water. Because of this, you could start to notice that your hot water never seems to last long enough. If you catch this sign immediately, you can get the tank cleaned out and avoid damage from mineral buildup.

6. Lukewarm Water

When it’s cold, the last thing you want is for your hot water to be lukewarm. If the water only gets to a lukewarm temperature, it could be an issue with the dip tube inside the hot water heater. The dip tube directs cold water to the bottom of the tank for heating. If the dip tube is cracked, it will allow cold water to be mixed with the hot water in the tank, therefore producing lukewarm water.

7. No Hot Water At All

If you turn on the faucet and the water never gets hot, make sure your water heater is getting power. Check and make sure the circuit breaker for the water heater is on because if it’s not, then the water heater can not heat the water because it’s not getting power. If that’s not the case, your water heater could have a heating element or thermostat that’s not functioning properly. If the heating element is not working properly, you won’t have hot water. The thermostat controls the heating element. So, if the thermostat is not functioning properly, the heating element won’t turn on to heat the water.


If you notice any of these signs, don’t ignore them. Contact a professional plumber to come out and check.


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