5 Easy To Spot Signs of a Busted Water Heater

Signs of a Busted Water Heater

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A water heater is essential in any home. However, just like any other appliance, your water heater will need to be replaced either because of age or usage.

While you can prolong your water heater’s lifespan by adhering to annual maintenance, chances are that you will start to see signs of a busted water heater when your unit is about to give up.

So, what are these signs, and what actions do you take once you see them?

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Signs of a Busted Water Heater


A pool of water close to your heater tank is one of the most common signs of a busted water heater. This often occurs if your water heater is six years or older.

Primarily, a leak occurs when the inner body of your water heater expands over time. This expansion leads to gaps that may allow some water to seep through.

The tank may not leak when the tank is idle, but once the tank expands during a heating cycle, the problem is observed.

Faulty connections or fittings may also cause leaks to the tank. With wrong fittings there may also be an overflow in the pipe‘s pressure and temperature.

Get a plumber to check whether there is a problem with the fittings.

Where a leak from the tank is involved, the only way to fix the problem is to replace the tank. If you do not act quickly, you may add flooding and residence damage to the list of things you need to do in the future.

Depending on where the tank is located, leaking could lead to ruined carpeting, mold growth on floors and walls, and destroyed furniture.


Steel is, without a doubt, the strongest material money can buy. However, corrosion is its biggest weakness, and once this starts, it creates weak points on the steel surface.

If you see rust on any part of the water heater, you should start getting ready to replace the unit. Rust on any surface often weakens it, and it will not be long before you start encountering more problems with your heater.

You may also notice that the water from the hot pipes is a bit rusty. This often indicates that the heater is rusting from the inside, and it is only a matter of time before it starts leaking.

It can be hard to tell whether the rust is coming from the heater or the pipes leading to the faucet, especially if the system has galvanized pipes.

 If you notice the rust in your sink or tub, try draining several buckets of hot water coming from the heater. If the water is still rusty after the third bucket, it is highly likely that the tank is the problem.

Whichever the case, a rust problem should be solved immediately for the sake of your household sanitation. You can be sure that the rust problem will soon be followed by leaks and other water heater related problems.

Malfunctioning Heating Elements

If the heating elements have malfunctioned, no water will be flowing to the tank. However, lack of water in the tank can also be caused by a build-up of sediments.

Too little hot water or water that is too hot for your comfort is also among the signs of a busted water heater. The solution may be as easy as adjusting the thermostat ideally to 120 degrees.

However, if you do not get hot water at all, the heating element may have malfunctioned. Before thinking of replacing the whole unit, first, check whether the element can be fixed.

With the right professional, you can have the heating elements solved and your heater working in just a few hours. Even if the heating element is the problem, you may need to consider replacing the heater if it is older than eight years.

Heating elements wear out faster if the heater is overworked. If your family has grown to include more members, you may consider upgrading to a heater that can meet your family’s demands without straining.

Odd Noises

A creaking, whining, or knocking inside the heater also falls among the most common signs of a busted water heater. In most cases, this happens as a result of sediment accumulation.

These sounds will be more noticeable in households that consume a lot of hot water. Once accumulated sediments have hardened, they form a layer on the tank floor that may cause any of the following problems:

  • Inefficiency as that sediments consume energy meant to heat the water inside the tank
  • Accelerated damage as the extra work done to heat water to desired temperatures wear the heater faster

If you hear sounds from your heater, you should start getting ready for leaks if you don’t move quickly.

To guarantee that your heater remains sediments-free, ensure that it is flushed at least once every year. This will drain all sediments so your heater will work more efficiently.

If you notice that the noise persists after flushing, the damage may already be done. The hardened sediments cannot be dislodged without damaging the tank.

 It is also possible that other underlying issues could cause noises.

Whatever the cause, rumbling, creaking noises from the heater normally precede leaking, so it always wise to act fast and get another heater.

It Is Too Old

Your water heater can only serve you for a certain period before it expires. If you have been renting your current home for years, you may likely replace your water heater in the course of your tenancy.

Age is also a factor to consider when deciding between repair and replacement. If you have been using your heater for over six years, replacing it makes more economic sense that repairing.

Trouble starts when you do not know how to tell how long you have to go before the water heater expires. However, simply reading the manufacture date on the heater can determine the time you have remaining before things start going downhill.

Most heaters will work perfectly for 8-10 years. The lifespan is even shorter for gas water heaters that last for 6-8 years

 This is no to say there aren’t heaters that last longer. Many homes have heaters that are up to 20 years old.

However, it is always good practice to replace your water before any of the above signs of a busted water heater begin to show.

You are better off with a new and efficient water heater than an old one that can cause damage to your home not. There is also the high-power bills that come with a heater that is not running efficiently.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the sighs of a busted water heater. If you notice any of them, it may be time to go shopping and get that upgrade you have been looking forward to.

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