7 Signs Your Water Heater Is Going Bad (What To Look For)

Water heaters and HVAC units have become vital to our day to day life. When the water heater isn’t working as it is designed to, it can throw a wrench into your daily routine. Knowing the signs your water heater is going bad can help you address the problem before you are left without hot water midway through your shower.

Let’s learn a bit about water heaters, and learn how to extend the life of your existing unit.

7 Signs your water heater is going bad

If your water heater is showing any of the following signs, you should consult with a trusted plumbing company. They can evaluate the appliance to see if it is something worth fixing or if a new water heater will be needed.

1. Age of the heater

Water heaters, or any appliance for that matter, are not made to last forever. An average water heater will typically last for about 10 years, though this can fluctuate depending on various factors, such as how well it has been maintained.

You can determine the age of the hot water heater by looking at the serial number which is found on the label. The first two digits of the code are the last two digits of the year it was manufactured. For example, if the last two digits are 07, then it was manufactured in 2007.

2. Discolored Water

When your hot water heater is spitting out discolored or cloudy water, then you know something is a midst. Rust-colored water is a tall-tail sign that there is either corrosion coming from the inside of the heater itself or from rusty pipes.

Either way, the issue will need to be addressed ASAP. Cloudy water is a sign that there are mineral deposits built up in the heater. They can severely damage the tank’s components and disrupt the flow of water.

3. The Heater is Leaking Water

Leaking is a sure sign of a water heater that needs replaced immediately. Leaking water can cause water damage to your home, which is not a cheap fix. And where there is leaking water there is a chance of mold.

That is why it is important to regularly inspect the heater for leaks. Look for leaks at the valve, as well as behind and underneath the tank itself.

4. Running out of hot water

If the heater is running out of hot water quicker than normal, it may be time for a new heater. Sediment buildup near the heating element or the heater’s burner may be the culprit, or it could be an electrical issue.

No matter what the cause, it typically means you will have to replace the water heater.

5. The water heater is making unusual noises

While it’s not all that uncommon for the water heater to make noises, if these noises are not something you have heard before from the appliance, it could be a sign that the appliance will be failing soon.

As the heater ages, you will probably hear the normal noises start to get louder and more noticeable. This is your sign to start looking for a new tank.

6. Water temperature is inconsistent

If the hot water tank cannot maintain the temperature, then that is one of the many signs your water heater is going bad. At first, you may be able to correct the issue by turning the temperature dial on the tank up to get the desired water temps.

However, this is only a band-aid and the inconsistent water temperature will only get worse as the tank continues to fail.

7. Low water pressure

A failing water heater will typically start to lose water pressure. Not only is that an annoying problem, especially when you’re trying to get shampoo out of your hair, but low pressure can also cause sediment to build up in the tank much quicker than with strong water pressure.

And when the sediment builds up, your water heater won’t last much longer.

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5 Ways to Prolong the Life of your Water Heater

The best way to prevent issues is to take a preventive approach before the signs your water heater is going bad appear. And the following 5 tips can help keep your heater functioning for years to come. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how well you maintain the water heater, it can still fail. But incorporating the below tips can help keep that from happening prematurely.

1. Flush the tank

Experts agree that flushing your tank can do wonders to extend the life of the water heater. This is especially important for areas with hard water. Flushing the tank helps to keep sediment from building up in the tank.

2. Change the anode rod

This rod is made from zinc, aluminum, or magnesium, and it goes through the top of the tank. It’s job is to attract corrosive elements to the rod itself instead. This little guy sacrifices itself to help protect the water heater. Unfortunately, these rods can expire and when that happens, the corrosion starts attacking the tank.

3. Schedule regular checkups

Your water tank will benefit from yearly checkups performed by a trusted service professional. The technician has the tools and experience to identify any potential issues before they become a full blown problem that results in a more expensive fix.

4. Utilize the vacation mode

When you’re away from home for a few days, turn the hot water heater to vacation mode. Not only does this save you energy, but it also reduces wear on the tank when you are not using it.

Newer models have a vacation or “VAC” mode on the tank. Older models may not have this option, but you can still get the same effect by simply turning the temperature of the water heater down a bit.

5. Activate the safety value

The safety value is an important feature that helps to prevent the tank from building up too much pressure. If it does, then the water evacuates from the tank via the safety value to relieve the pressure.

Once a year, you should manually activate the safety value to help eliminate minerals or sediment that may be building up in the value.