Ask a Contractor Average read time: 2 minutes

Hey Pro, was wondering what I should check for to determine if my hot water tank is about to give out on me.

Sue N. – Ferndale, MI 


Hey Sue,

Hot showers are a luxury we tend to take for granted until they are not available, due to a broken water heater. Nobody wants to wake up to a shower that will not heat up, it’s pure agony. This is a reality for many people as they take their water heater for granted until it’s too late to do something about it.

Allowing your water heater to run until a failure is a recipe for disaster in your home, causing disruption to bathing, dishes, and laundry until you get somebody to come and replace it which could be weeks of downtime.

You could also be at risk of leaking and flooding which would add to the monumental costs you would incur.

How long do water heaters typically last?

The trusty water heater often goes unnoticed until you notice a disruption or change in water temperature or color. They typically last 10 years, or more if maintained properly. But if your appliance is getting close (or is past) the 10-year milestone, it’s important to know the warning signs that your water heater may be nearing the end of it’s useful life.

How can I tell it’s going to fail?

There are a few different telltale signs of impending water heater doom. The first is:

Continue Reading Below

Get our Pro Advice articles delivered directly to your inbox!
Subscribe to Our Mailing List

1. A change in performance – If you notice that your showers are cut shorter and shorter or don’t get quite as hot. This might indicate that there is sediment coating the heating element or there is another issue with the heating element.

2. Rust – Rust appearing in your water, especially if it’s new, is a sign that your water heater is rusting from the inside out. You can know if it’s an issue with your water heater itself if the cold water contains the rust as well – if it does, the pipes in your home (or elsewhere) are to blame and not your water heater. If it’s in the hot water only, you have a problem with your water heater that you should address immediately.

3. Noises – Banging or rumbling noises are another sign that there is a problem with your water heater. Dried up sediment or rust build-up can cause valves to shut off without warning, another indication that you might need help with your water heater very soon.

4. Leaks – Water pooling near or leaking from the water heater is a guarantee of trouble to come. The usually occurs because of a small fracture somewhere in the tank. This can lead to immediate disruption, flooding and catastrophic failure. If you notice a crack or pooling, it is time to call for help and retire your water heater.

If you have any other questions about future home projects or anything general repair advice, feel free to drop us a message on our ask a contractor page.


Pro Presents: Ask a Contractor

Owning a home means you have a never-ending list of repair projects and you can never be ready for absolutely everything. For this reason, we are Pro Home Improvement are trying to answer some of the common questions and problems that come up in our new "Ask a Contractor" feature.

In this feature, you are welcome to submit questions via our website and we will answer your questions in our blog post.

If you have questions for a contractor be sure to visit our question submission form. You can also schedule an appointment to get help on your next project by visiting our estimates page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *