Are you wondering if your water heater should be replaced or repaired? Before the water heater breaks down completely, signs or clues indicate the necessity of reparation or that something is malfunctioning to the point that requires a new water heater. 

It is essential not to ignore the early signs of a problem with the water heater if you want to prevent it from breaking when you most need it, such as when you need to shower. If you want to know what those signs are, read more.

Common signs of the water heater need repair or replacement 

You could suspect your water heater needs to be repaired because of its unusual behavior. Sometimes the signs indicate that the water heater must be wholly replaced. 

Fortunately, before that happens, you can detect that something is not right by the following symptoms:

1. Changing water temperature

One of the first signs of a malfunctioning water heater is the fast-changing water temperature. If the water should come out hot, but you get it lukewarm or cold, you know something is wrong. 

A common reason a water heater loses heat is the accumulation of mineral deposits on the system components, preventing them from functioning correctly. If you are using hot water for the first time during the day, maybe the water heater wasn’t ready yet to make the water hot.

But, if the water temperature often fluctuates, it is necessary to have the water heater repaired. However, if the water heater is too old, it might be better to get a new one, or the danger is that you might need to repair it frequently. 

There are other reasons for the water heater providing inconsistent hot water. One of these reasons could be the thermostat. The settings could be wrong, or someone accidentally changed them. Before calling the repair man, it is wise to check the thermostat settings. 

2. Sudden lack of hot water

Another sign of a water heater malfunction is the sudden lack of hot water. If the hot water stop coming out, it could be a sign of a broken component of the water heater, such as electrical components, the coil, the burner, etc. 

Another reason for the lack of hot water is the small tank size. A small thank means that there is less water, which will get consumed very fast. The heater doesn’t have time to replace the hot water, and what comes out is cold or warm water. 

This last problem could be solved with a bigger tank. Additionally, if your tank is placed outside, the cold weather can lower the temperature of the water in the tank. In general, this is happening for the lack of proper insulation. 

3. Rusty or dirty water

Typically, water coming out from the tap is colorless. Instead, if it is rusty, brown, dirty, or contains dark particles, the first thing you can suspect is that there is something wrong with the water heater.

Water heaters are made of metals that can rust due to corrosion. The corrosion occurs on the metal’s surface but then goes deeper into the materials. In addition, sedimentation can be another reason for brow water. 

In both cases, the situation presents a health concern for those using the water. The solutions are multiple, such as having the water tank cleaned or replaced if the rust cannot be resolved. 

Sometimes the rust is on the water pipes, which signifies that in the near future, leaks can form. In general, rust forms when the water heater is old, but it is not excluded that it can form even on newer systems. 

4. Noises coming from the water tank

Noises coming from the water tank are not a good sign. Generally, it is customary to expect a mild buzz from the tank; with age and wear, the sound could become very loud. Therefore, loud sounds should be investigated before it is too late. 

For example, banging, popping, or cracking sounds are unusual and should be investigated. The solution is to call a professional technician that can investigate the source of the problem. 

The causes behind the loud sounds can be mineral accumulation, broken tubers, or components. 

Professionals can flush the tank and get rid of the sediments. However, if this is not helping, it might be that the tank is too old and need to be replaced. 

5. Water leaking

Water leaks are one of the reasons for unusual sounds coming from the water heater. However, the most apparent sign is the water falling at the bottom of the water tank. 

Water leaks are dangerous because of the corrosion caused by the water on the tank structure.

The solution is to replace the leaks before they become bigger and cause more difficulties. Leaks will not seal alone and, if left unhandled, can cause significant property damages. Moreover, even a small leak could become huge after a while. 

It is an excellent habit to routinely inspect the water tank or heater to locate leaks and call a professional technician to repair them in case you find them. 

6. The water heater is old

A water heater can last between 8 and 20 years, depending on how well it is cared for. Yearly maintenance can help prolong its life, but age is still a significant factor when deciding if to replace the water heater. 

Once the water heater is old and breaks too quickly, it might be better to get a new one that can guarantee several years of proper performance. Although getting a new water heater can be a more significant investment, it could still be more convenient than paying numerous repair bills. 


When the water heater is not working correctly, you can understand it by numerous clues. However, it is not advisable to try repairing the water heating alone, touching electrical components, or attempting to remedy water leaks. 

In general, to remedy the situation, it is often necessary to call a professional technician unless you have set the thermostat incorrectly.