Is Your Water Heater Failing?

Here’s how to tell if your water heater is on the fritz


A failing water heater can be an inconvenience to say the least. These closet-dwellers usually last 12 to 16 years, but can fail at any time if the wrong symptoms are showing. If you’re still using a bad water heater, shut it off now. A warm shower isn’t worth the costs of a water heater catastrophe.

If a water heater is showing any failing symptoms, it’s best to shut it off and call an experienced plumber. Broken water heaters can cause serious flooding that could damage your home and possessions. In 2015, the Union County Government Center spent over $100,000 on water damage due to their failing water heater. To avoid a major incident like this, be sure to perform regular inspections on your water heater.


Check its Age

As mentioned above, most water heaters last 12 to 16 years. However, a failing water heater can strike at any time, and it’s important to stay on top of regular inspection and maintenance. The first and easiest way to inspect your water heater is by checking its age. Every water heater will have a serial number on its manufacturer’s sticker. This sticker is usually located on the upper portion of the heater. A water heater’s serial number will tell you the exact month that the water heater was manufactured.

Instead of directly saying the date, the manufactured date will be in the beginning of the serial number. If your serial number is “H09A147839,” then your water heater was manufactured in August of 2009. The letter “H” stands for the month the water heater was manufactured. Because “H” is the eighth letter in the alphabet, it coincides with the eighth month, August, just as “A” would be January, “B” would be February, and so on. The two numbers after the month letter is the year the water heater was manufactured. In this example, “09” means the water heater was built in 2009, making it eight years old. This water heater hasn’t quite reached its life expectancy, but it may be time to start doing regular inspections on the system.


Constant Repairs Aren’t Worth It

A water heater is just like a vehicle; if you keep pumping money into it, it’s not worth keeping. If new problems keep popping up with your water heater, it’s time to replace it. As plumbers, we know that the cost of a new water heater can be off-putting, but putting off the inevitable death of a dying water heater isn’t worth the cost. If you’re lucky, you’ll add a few years to the heaters life, only for it to suddenly die when you least expect it.

Sometimes repairs are a better option though. If you’re wondering what the best option is for you, contact an experienced plumber that specializes in water heater replacements and repairs.


Don’t Miss the Simple Signs

Water heaters show several common signs when they’re malfunctioning. If the water coming out of your faucet isn’t hot anymore, you might have a water heater problem. Your water usually won’t become ice-cold overnight, but if you’re only getting lukewarm water in the shower, your water heater might be having issues. If your water heater is taking a longer time to heat water, that could also be a sign that its running out of time.

You may experience metallic water later in your water heater’s life. If your warm water starts tasting like iron or looks rusty, there’s a good chance your water heater’s inner tank is corroding. At this point, your best option is to start shopping for a new system.

Finally, leaks are one of the most common signs of a broken water heater. Whether a water heater is new or old, it could be susceptible to leaks. In some cases, water heaters leak slowly and can go unnoticed for days. In other instances, water heaters can fill your house with hundreds of gallons of water in a couple of hours. Both types of leaks can cause major structural damage that could cost you thousands of dollars.


Trust the Experts

It’s easy to check the common signs of a failing water heater yourself, but it’s usually beneficial to get an expert involved. Water heater replacements and repairs can be a hard pill to swallow, but having thousands of dollars to spend in structural repairs would be much, much worse.

If you have questions about water heater repairs, or you’re in the market for a new water heater, call Keith Nelson at Keith Nelson Plumbing & Heating Inc. Keith has been in the plumbing business for 30 years and specializes in water heater replacements and repairs. If you’re looking for trustworthy, reliable plumbing services, call us at 651-739-1048 or fill out our online contact form.