Water heaters can last as long as 15 years. How long a water heater lasts depends on a variety of factors, such as whether it receives regular maintenance, the type of water you have, the kind of water heater, and its power source. Toward the end of their lifespan, water heaters will show signs that they are beginning to fail. Learn the signs of water heater failure so that you can address them quickly and start preparing to procure a new water heater.
Water Discoloration or Rust
Seeing water discoloration or rust when you run the hot water is a concerning sign associated with a failing water heater. Rusty or discolored water often arises from corrosion or deterioration inside the tank. Corrosion occurs when the interior lining of the water heater tank breaks down due to age, causing the metal components to rust, and the rust will mix with the water supply. Rust can contaminate the water and cause health issues, such as developing hemochromatosis. A failing anode rod can also lead to water discoloration.
If the water heater tank is breaking down and causing rust, you will have to replace your water heater because the tank will eventually corrode so much that it will spring a leak or burst. If the anode rod is the issue, you can have that replaced and continue to use your current water heater, provided there are no other problems present.
Strange noises emanating from a water heater often indicate underlying problems. Popping, rumbling, or banging sounds are common signs of sediment buildup inside the tank. Over time, minerals and debris settle at the bottom, causing the heating element to overheat while trying to warm the water. The resulting noises occur as the overheated water interacts with the sediment. These noises can potentially result from the tank expanding and contracting due to heat, signaling that there are structural problems present.
Ignoring these sounds can cause the water heater to become less efficient, use more energy, and break. Having a professional flush the tank to remove sediment, inspect for internal damage, or address any other underlying issues they encounter will ensure the water heater operates smoothly.
Insufficient Hot Water
Insufficient hot water is another common indicator of a failing water heater. This sign occurs as a reduced supply of hot water or unexpected fluctuations in temperature. Several factors, such as silt buildup, a worn-out heating element, or a malfunctioning thermostat, can cause this problem. Silt accumulation at the bottom of the tank impedes heat transfer, reducing the heater’s efficiency. A worn or faulty heating element struggles to heat water adequately, resulting in insufficient hot water output. Additionally, a malfunctioning thermostat might inaccurately regulate the water temperature.
These issues collectively lead to lukewarm or cold water and interfere with daily activities, such as bathing or washing dishes. Addressing this sign promptly by inspecting and potentially replacing the heating element, cleaning the tank to remove silt, or recalibrating the thermostat can help restore the functionality of the water heater and ensure a consistent hot water supply.
Leaks or Pooling Water
Leaks or pooling water around a water heater are unmistakable signs of a potential malfunction or failure. Visible leaks can indicate several issues, such as corrosion, loose fittings, or cracks within the tank. These leaks may occur due to deterioration of the interior lining of the tank or structural damage caused by age or excessive pressure.
Ignoring these leaks can cause serious water damage to the surrounding region and, if neglected, may worsen the problem to the point of flooding or mold growth. Then, you will have even more significant problems on your hands because you will have to contend with property damage that can potentially cost thousands to fix. Furthermore, if the mold growth is significant enough, you can spend thousands more.
Turning off the water supply and getting assistance from a professional are important things to do as soon as you notice pooling water. Repairing or replacing failing components or replacing the water heater altogether can prevent further damage and ensure safe operation.
Foul odors from water heater taps can be quite concerning. When a distinct metallic or sulfur-like smell accompanies hot water, this suggests that there is bacterial growth in the tank due to silt buildup. This bacterial growth negatively impacts the taste and quality of the water. Additionally, hydrogen sulfide gas, resulting from reactions with anode rods, can produce a “rotten egg” odor.
Addressing foul odors involves washing the tank to eliminate accumulated silt, disinfecting it to eradicate bacteria, or replacing anode rods if they contribute to the smell. Ignoring these odors may lead to more significant issues, such as serious illness.
One illness that can occur because of bacterial growth in a water heater tank is Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling bacteria from the droplets of water coming from the infected water tank. Approximately 22,000 cases of Legionnaires disease are reported annually in the United States. Symptoms include a dry cough, fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. Sometimes, Legionnaires disease turns into pneumonia. This disease is potentially fatal, so it’s important to act as soon as you notice any signs that indicate bacteria is present.
Age of the Water Heater
The age of a water heater is a critical factor in assessing its potential for failure. Conventional tank water heaters typically have a lifespan of about 8 to 12 years. Constant heating and cooling cycles can cause the interior of the tank to deteriorate over time, which might result in leaks or corrosion.
An aging water heater often exhibits signs of wear, such as reduced efficiency, increased energy consumption, or frequent repairs. While regular maintenance can extend its lifespan, a water heater nearing the end of its expected lifespan may require replacement to avoid sudden breakdowns.
If a water heater requires repeated repairs within a brief period, it often signifies ongoing problems that might escalate. Components within the heater, such as the heating element, thermostat, or valves, may wear out or malfunction, leading to recurrent issues.
Repeated repairs become financially burdensome over time. Rather than spending significant amounts of money on repeated repairs, it may be more cost-effective to consider replacing the water heater.
Contact Us for All Your HVAC and Plumbing Services in Camp Verde, AZ
Whether you need a water heater for a newly built home or to replace an old, inefficient unit, our licensed professionals can complete all aspects of the job and take care of any other plumbing needs, from clogged drains to sewer repair. We also specialize in cooling, heating, and indoor air quality services.
Having a water heater installed in your Camp Verde, AZ home by a licensed plumber is the best way to ensure your unit is safe and meets all local code requirements. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Goettl's High Desert Mechanical to schedule an appointment.