Now that the temperatures are reaching their lowest, just the thought of a failing water heater can make most people shiver. For an average house, the availability of hot, running water is crucial to everyday life. An average water heater can last 2 decades or more. But with all things mechanical, it’s not a question of if the water heater will fail, but when?

In this article, we’ll take a look at some tell-tale signs of a failing water heater.

Lack of Hot Water

The most obvious signs of a failing water heater are a lack of sufficient hot water or lukewarm temperature during use. An average water heater (with an operating capacity of around 50 gallons) can easily supply 2 to 3 hot water showers in a row. The reason for this can be due to a faulty gas valve or a buildup of minerals and sediment that reduce the heater’s water capacity.

To check whether the gas valve is at fault, simply use a cooking thermometer and place it under a faucet. Set the temperature of your water heater at normal (which is usually 120 degrees). Observe the thermometer’s reading. If the temperature exceeds 120 degrees then it’s a sure-shot sign that your water heater is failing. A temperature below 120 degrees also indicates that something’s wrong but it can be due to a number of other reasons.


Age is an important factor to keep in mind when your water heater begins to show worrying signs. An average heater can last around 10 to 15 years before requiring additional repairs and anything beyond that is borrowed time.

Contact a licensed plumber to come and inspect the water heater. If it’s passed the 15-year mark and requires costly repairs, maybe it’s time to consider purchasing a new one. We would recommend a tank-less water heater that can help you save around 24% to 34% in energy costs.

Rusty Water

If your water begins to have a metallic, rusty taste or scent especially from the hot side then it’s a sign that the water heater is rusting on the inside and will start to leak very soon. Mineral deposits flowing out of the heater can also give it a cloudy appearance.


The issue of rust could also be related to your pipes. Drain out all the water in large buckets with a capacity of around five gallons. If by the third bucket the water is still rusty, then the problem lies in the heater.

Apart from being forced to take showers in ice-cold water, failing water heaters can also pose health risks due to water contamination. Your1Plumber are licensed and qualified plumbers in Maryland that offer repair and replacement services. Contact them to inspect your water heater today!