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3 Telltale Signs of a Failing Water Heater

Water Heater Repair
A water heater is responsible for all the hot water in your home. Many people take their hot water for granted until it's gone. A good water heater will work for several years, pending any damage directly to the appliance. Normal wear and tear on the hot water heater result in worn-out elements and other issues that can be solved by simple troubleshooting and basic maintenance.

However, sometimes the hot water heater simply can't go on any longer. These problems are signs that you require a new appliance.

1. Noise

A hot water heater has a variety of noises that it makes, like the sound of the motor running to refill the appliance after you run water. However, several noises point to a malfunctioning water heater. Rumbling or knocking noises coming from the unit are sure signs that something is wrong. A few causes for noisy water heaters are cracks and sediment.


A crack inside the water heater's tank will cause it to make a rumbling noise. A cracked tank can lead to bigger issues than a noisy appliance. The crack can grow bigger and the tank will begin to leak. You will have water damage if you do not catch the leak in time, and the problem could result in damage to the entire appliance.


Sediment is a type of matter that forms at the bottom of the water. Over time, sediment will build-up in the water heater. The sediment causes the water heater to work harder to do its job. The harder it runs, the more rumbling and knocking noises may come from the unit. Sediment is also the leading cause of cracks on tanks.

2. Rust

Rusty water is a huge sign that you have issues with your water heater. Most water heaters are constructed out of steel, which will rust over time. Rusty appliances should be dealt with immediately because rust points to a weak spot in the appliance that may begin to leak. Some of the areas that rust on the water heater are pipes, valves, and the tank.


The pipes inside the heater are susceptible to rust. When you run water through the pipes, the water turns to a light red color as it comes out of the faucets. Once rust has hit the pipes, you need to replace the pipes or the entire appliance.


The pressure valves can also become rusty over time. The valves can also be switched out, but it is safer to get a new water heater to be safe.


The tank inside the appliance will also become rusty. You can test it by running water into the bathtub. If the water runs red for a bit then fades to clear, the tank is probably rusty.

3. Age

Sometimes the issues with the water heater stem from the age of the appliance. You should replace the water heater at least once a decade. Many water heaters don't last this long, but with proper maintenance, a unit can last for a long time.

The life expectancy of the heater also depends on which type it is. Gas heaters tend to last a shorter amount of time. Check the serial numbers on your appliance so you have a good idea how old it is. If it is acting up and is close to a decade old, the age could explain any difficulty you're having. This  guide will help you determine the age of your appliance.

If your hot water heater shows any of the three signs listed about, contact John Manning Plumbing, Drain & Septic for a replacement.