5 Signs Your Water Heater Is Failing

A cool shower might be welcome at the end of a scorching summer day, but in the winter months, the last thing anyone wants is to find themselves taking a cold shower.

That is why it is so important to recognize the early signs that something is amiss with your water heater so you can have it corrected before you have to face the prospect of braving a cold shower or foregoing bathing altogether until you can get your heater repaired.

Here is a look at five common signs that your water heater is failing, along with some advice on how you might be able to manage the problem. When in doubt, it is best to call a professional plumber.

Your Water Temperature Fluctuates

If you find that your water may be too hot one second and too cold the next, these fluctuations could be a sign of a larger issue with your water heater that is likely to get worse with time.

When you notice this happening, the first thing you should do is check that your water heater thermostat is set to the temperature you desire. You may want to mark the present setting with a piece of tape or a marker before you adjust it so you can see if the thermostat is moving around on its own after you adjust it.

If the water remains too hot or too cold even when you are sure the thermostat is at the right temperature, the problem could be the thermostat or the heating element. A plumber can advise you in this situation.

Your Water Heater Is Leaking

If you see water dripping from your water heater unit or pooling around the bottom of your tank, this typically indicates a major internal failure, and it requires immediate attention.

Disconnect the electricity or gas to your unit and allow it to cool down, then call a plumber to deal with the situation safely. In this case, it may be necessary to replace the water heater altogether.

Your Water Heater Is Making Sounds

If you hear unusual noises coming from your water tank , whether it is gurgling, banging, popping or cracking, it could be a sign that a heating element is deteriorating or the unit is burning sediment and scale. Draining the tank and removing the residue can go a long way toward correcting this type of problem.

However, if the sound you hear resembles that of boiling, you need to call a plumber immediately as there could be a pressure buildup or intense overheating, and this is not something you should attempt to correct on your own.

You Are Not Getting Enough Hot Water

If you are struggling to get enough hot water for a shower of a reasonable length or the hot water is simply not lasting as long as it once did, it could mean that your water heater is not producing enough hot water for some reason.

You may be able to adjust the temperature dial on your water heater to a higher number to obtain hotter water. Draining the tank to remove sediment may also help boost your unit’s efficiency. However, there could be a faulty component that needs repair, so it is important to talk to a plumber about the best course of action.

In some cases, you may simply have a water heater that is too small for your family’s needs, and this can be corrected by buying a new unit with a bigger tank or switching to a tankless on-demand model.

Your Water Is Discolored Or Smells Bad

If you are noticing strong odors coming from your water, such as the smell of rotten eggs, there could be bacteria inside of the tank. If you see discolored water that looks rusty or muddy, your tank may be rusting.


In these cases, your tank’s anode rod, which normally removes rust from the water and kills bacteria, could be broken. A plumber can determine whether the anode rod is indeed at fault, which will require professional repair.

Get In Touch With The Professional Northern Virginia Plumbers

It may be possible to diagnose certain issues with your water heater if you are familiar with the way these units operate. However, it is best to have a professional inspect your water heater’s most important components, such as the anode rod and pressure relief valve, on a regular basis to ensure they are performing properly.

Because hot water, pressure, and gas or electricity are typically involved in water heater issues, these are not repairs that should be attempted on your own.

At Baumbach Plumbing & Remodeling, our team of licensed and insured professionals can carry out all types of water heater maintenance services to preserve your heater’s efficiency and functionality. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you ensure this crucial appliance is running smoothly.

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