5 Warning Signs Your Water Heater Is About To Fail – Don’t Ignore Them!

You may not think about your hot water heater going out until it does. This can cause you inconvenience and frustration as you try to determine what went wrong. While hot water heaters usually don’t go out, there can be signs that yours is failing. 

Knowing what to look for can make a big difference in whether your home has hot water or not. And if you notice the signs that it is beginning to fail you can call in a professional to fix it quickly. This will help ease the frustration of being left without hot water, especially during the winter months when you may need it the most.  

What Causes A Water Heater To Fail?

There can be a few different reasons that your hot water heater fails. Aside from a leak or internal heating elements breaking there are some more serious issues that can occur.

Scale and Sediment Buildup

When “hard water” is heated repeatedly it may result in scale and sediment building up in the water heater. When routine maintenance and cleaning is not performed on the water heater it may cause problems for the internal parts of the water heater. 

In particular, the anode rod may be compromised. The anode rod protects the water heater from corrosion by attracting corrosive elements and keeping them away from the inside of the tank. In electrical water heaters if cleaning scale and sediment is neglected it may result in the heating elements being damaged.


As you’ve learned the anode rod in a water heater has the purpose of preventing corrosion to the unit. When that rod corrodes and is not replaced it will deteriorate and not be able to perform its job. Since the purpose of the anode rod is to corrode and take corrosion away from the unit if it is not regularly inspected and replaced it will cause the water heater to fail. 

Water Damage

If your water heater happens to be in an area that has been flooded, it can be detrimental to the unit. This will result in your water heater needing a complete replacement. 

How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

Hot water heaters typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. If your unit is not properly maintained and serviced, the lifespan can be much lower. Over time the parts of the water heater will get used and need some kind of replacement. 

If your water heater is past the typical lifespan, it may start having problems. If problems persist you might need to have your unit replaced. 

Signs Your Water Heater Is Going To Fail

Knowing what can cause your water heater to fail is a great way to be prepared and make sure that you keep your unit maintained. However, it may be past the point where you are already seeing signs of it failing. If you know what exactly to look for you’ll be able to decide if you need a professional to take a look at it. 

Running Out Of Hot Water Quickly

Your hot water running out quickly is a sure sign that your water heater is failing. This can usually be caused when there is a lot of sediment in your water, and it settles at the bottom of your tank. The sediment will cause there to be less space for the hot water which will result in it running out very quickly. 

If this problem doesn’t get resolved, it might cause the valves to become corroded or clogged. Which would result in you needing a whole new water heater. 

Discolored Water Coming From The Faucets

If you’re noticing orange-colored particles or murky water coming from your faucets, it’s likely that your water heater is failing. All water heaters are equipped with an internal coat that slows down corrosion. But once that coating starts to dissipate, rust will quickly form. 

A professional may be able to simply replace the anode rod to extend the life of your water heater but this doesn’t always work for a permanent solution. They might also flush the water heater to rid the water of the rust particles. 

Strange Noises Coming From The Water Heater

Strange noises coming from your water heater can be a cause for concern. There are a variety of reasons that your water heater might be making these odd sounds. It could be a serious problem such as your water heater element breaking. Or it could be caused by a clog from minerals and sediment, a loose connection with a valve, or changing water pressure. 

No matter the cause, you’ll need to have your water heater looked at by someone who is experienced with different water heater problems. This will be the easiest route to knowing if your water heater just needed a tune-up or if it has bigger problems. 

Water Leaking From The Water Heater

Noticing water leaking from your water heater or puddles underneath it can cause anyone to worry that their water heater is failing. There are many different causes as to why this can be happening. Some components of your water heater may need to be tightened or replaced, and valves and connections might be loose. While these can be easy fixes there are more serious issues of water leaking from your water heater. 

If the tank is leaking, you’ll need to have a replacement done on your water heater. There’s no easy fix for this and unfortunately replacing the whole unit is the only way to fix it. 

Water Temperature Is Inconsistent 

If you’re taking a shower and begin noticing that the hot water is going in and out and not staying at a consistent temperature, it’s time to take a look at your water heater. Heating elements can break in your unit which can cause bigger problems. It might also be an easier fix such as a thermostat issue. The only way to really know what is going on with your hot water heater and why it’s causing inconsistent temperature is to ask an M and M professional. 

Risks Of An Old Water Heater

Even though a water heater can usually be fixed quickly, if the problem doesn’t get addressed it can cause bigger problems in your home. 

Electrical Outages and Shortages

An old water heater might cause electrical shortages and outages. This can cause many problems for your home. Getting a water heater replacement to avoid these kinds of issues is highly recommended. 

Mold Growth

It’s possible for mold to grow and thrive in old water heaters. This is because the water heater creates a moist environment that allows these organisms to survive. This is especially the case if your water heater is located in the basement or has a leaky valve, connector, or pipe. 

Blocked Valves

If a water heater is not flushed or maintained, it is highly likely that sediment will build up and block the valves. This can cause further issues for you when trying to get hot water from your unit and cause pressure to build inside the water heater. They will need to be replaced quickly before the problem can get worse. 

Increase of Critters

Water heaters provide an ideal environment for mice, rats, and cockroaches. They often choose a warm location such as the burners on gas water heaters. If your water heater is old and not often maintained, it may lead to an infestation. Cockroaches can also enter the tank itself which can contaminate your drinking water and water that you use to bathe. 


Water heaters that are old and were manufactured many years ago don’t always become equipped with safety valves. This can lead to overheating in your water heater tank and cause it to burst. This can create problems for you if your water heater is located in the ceiling or the basement. 

Benefits Of A New Water Heater

Having a new water heater installed in your home can provide a variety of benefits that you may not have considered. Aside from not having those pesky problems that your water heater has been causing it also adds more benefits on top of it. Some of those benefits include:

  • Save money on your water bill – When your unit is running efficiently you won’t have problems with leaks and the unit will have a higher efficiency rating. 
  • Increased hot water recovery rate – If you and your family tend to use a lot of hot water at one time a new unit will be able to keep up with the demand. 
  • Fewer problems – You don’t need to worry about your new water heater having problems for many years. However, it is important to have a water heater maintenance plan in place to increase the lifespan of your new unit. 

Water Heater Service And Replacement Services

Now that you’ve gotten a chance to recognize the signs that your hot water heater is failing and what can happen if your old water heater is left too long, it’s time to get your water heater repaired or replaced. 

The professionals at M and M Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical are experts in water heater repair and replacement. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

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