6 Signs That Your Water Heater Needs Urgent Repair

Last updated on October 17, 2023

Your home’s water heater is one home appliance that runs every day, all year long. With the daily stress the heater endures, it will likely stop functioning as well as it should one day. If you don’t address problems early, it only increases the chance you will have more costly repairs to deal with down the road.

Acting quickly is crucial, but that is only possible if you know the early warning signs of the boiler not working properly. You don’t have to wait until you have only cold water coming from the taps, here are some of the most common signs you should have your water heater checked soon.

What's Inside

Inconsistent Temperature

water heater repair

Does the water sometimes come out as hot as you want and other times as cold or lukewarm? Does this happen even though no adjustment was made to the water heater’s temperature setting? This could indicate a developing fault.

The causes of such fluctuation are diverse, but one of the more common reasons for irregularity is the accumulation of mineral deposits over the heating element. Irrespective of the cause, for water heater repair, get a skilled contractor from a reputable company and have them take a look.

Dirty or Discolored Water

The water coming out of your taps should have only one color – none. Of course, when it’s running at high pressure, it will have a slightly cloudy appearance, but this should revert to colorless once you adjust the tap to a trickle once again.

If you notice your water is brownish or has noticeable tiny particles, your water heater could be to blame. The issue could also be further up your main water supply. Perhaps your water heater has accumulated substantial sedimentation or the water tank is rusty. None of these is good for your heater’s longevity and should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible. 

Unusual Noises

If you have used your water heater for a while, then you are already accustomed to any sounds it produces when running. Noises are not a problem as long as they are normal. But if you notice any new or strange sounds coming from your water heater, then you have a legitimate reason to be concerned.

You should act if you start to hear rumbling, banding, cracking, or popping sounds. Such noises are often due to the accumulation of mineral deposits or a broken dip tube, though the potential reasons are diverse and should be confirmed by a professional. 

Excessive noise can start to slowly compromise the structural integrity of the water tank. It is unlikely that the tank will burst, but it could start leaking which will only increase the cost of resolving the problem.


If you have puddles of water around the bottom of your water tank, you could be facing a gradual weakening of the tank’s structure. As the water tank heats up, it expands. When it cools, it contracts. This cycle of expansion and contraction can cause cracks. The temperature and pressure valves could leak too.

The pools of water are in themselves a hazard for small kids, pets, and electrical appliances that are around the area. But the puddles could also accelerate corrosion of the outer parts of the tank, which may make their way to the tank’s inside – meaning more leaks over time.  

The longer you leave leaks unaddressed, the higher the chances of eventually replacing the entire water heater in the future.

Age of Water Heater

Your water heater has a finite lifespan. A study by the International Association of Home Inspectors found that conventional water heaters last between six and 12 years, while instant water heaters run for about 10 years. 

That being said, the life expectancy of a water heater is affected by the mineral content of water in your home. The higher the content, the more quickly it will deteriorate. 

Every water heater’s manufacturer sticker has a serial number that includes the date of manufacture. If your heater is nearing the expected limit of its life expectancy, you want to have it checked – even if there are no noticeable problems.

No Hot Water

It’s the most obvious sign and probably the one thing that will trigger anyone to want to have their water tank checked. You want to do everything possible to avoid getting to this point since a tank that only produces cold water means your entire system may have failed.

If you have a home warranty and it turns out the heater failed despite normal wear and tear, you could potentially save thousands of dollars. It might be an issue that could be fixed easily, such as replacing a burner element. In the worst case, however, you may have to replace the entire water heater.

Look Out for the Signs

Your water heater is unlikely to fail without warning, but the warning signs are not always easy to spot. If you do notice them, or suspect other issues with your water heater, have an experienced technician take a look.  

A water heater is a sensitive appliance whose repair should be left in the hands of licensed professionals. Dealing with experts gives your heater longevity and guarantees impeccable service.

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