Signs Your Water Heater Needs Repair: Tips From Professional Plumbers


As our lives become increasingly busy, it’s easy to take modern conveniences like hot water for granted. Yet, when your water heater stops working, you’re reminded of just how essential it is to your daily routine.

To prevent costly repairs or replacements, it’s important to know the signs that your heater needs attention. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the top indicators that your heater requires repair, as shared by professional plumbers.

We’ll also provide valuable insights and tips to help you address these issues before they escalate into major problems.

Insufficient Hot Water Supply


A common sign that your water heater needs repair is a sudden decrease in the hot water supply. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including a malfunctioning thermostat, a damaged heating element, or sediment buildup in the tank. If you’re consistently running out of hot water during showers or while washing dishes, it’s time to call a professional plumber for an inspection.

Lowering the thermostat setting on your heater to 120°F can help save energy and reduce the risk of scalding. However, if you still find yourself running out of hot water, it’s time to call in the experts. Regular maintenance of your water heaters can help prevent issues with an insufficient hot water supply and extend the lifespan of your appliance.

Discolored or Rusty Water

Rusty or discolored water coming from your faucets is another sign that your heater may need repair. This could indicate corrosion inside the tank, which can lead to leaks and eventual tank failure. To determine if the issue is specific to the heater, check if the discoloration is present only in the hot water supply or in both hot and cold water.

Installing a whole-house water filter can help reduce sediment and impurities in your water supply, prolonging the life of your heater and other plumbing fixtures.

Strange Noises

If you notice strange noises coming from your water heater, such as popping, rumbling, or hissing sounds, it’s a sign that something’s not right. These noises could be caused by sediment buildup in the tank, which can decrease the efficiency of the unit and lead to overheating. In some cases, these sounds may also indicate a damaged or leaking pressure relief valve, which can pose a serious safety risk.

Draining and flushing your heater annually can help remove sediment buildup and prevent these issues from occurring.

Water Leaks


A leaking heater is a clear indication that something is wrong and requires immediate attention. Leaks can be caused by several factors, such as a faulty pressure relief valve, a corroded tank, or loose connections. If left unaddressed, leaks can cause significant water damage and even lead to the need for a full replacement.

Regularly inspect the area around your water heater for signs of moisture, as small leaks can often go unnoticed until they become larger problems.

Fluctuating Water Temperature

If you’re experiencing fluctuating temperatures, such as water that’s too hot or too cold, it could be a sign that your water heater needs repair. This issue could stem from a malfunctioning thermostat, a damaged heating element, or sediment buildup that’s affecting the unit’s efficiency.

Neglecting to address fluctuating temperatures can lead to more serious problems, such as leaks or damage to your heater, and can result in higher energy bills due to increased usage.

Test the temperature at various times of the day and from different faucets to determine if the issue is consistent or isolated to a specific fixture. If the problem persists, it’s important to seek the assistance of a professional plumber who can diagnose and repair the underlying issue.

Age of the Unit

The average lifespan of a heater is around 8-12 years, depending on factors like the type of unit, maintenance, and water quality. As your heater approaches the end of its lifespan, you may start to notice a decline in performance, efficiency, and reliability.

Keep track of your water heater’s age and consider scheduling a professional inspection to determine if it’s time for a repair or replacement. Regular maintenance, such as annual flushing and replacing the anode rod every few years, can help extend the life of your heater and improve its efficiency.

High Energy Bills


If you’ve noticed a sudden spike in your energy bills without a change in your usage habits, it could be a sign that your water heater is not operating efficiently. This might be due to a malfunctioning thermostat, a damaged heating element, or sediment buildup in the tank. A professional plumber can inspect your heater and identify the root cause of the problem.

Insulating your heater and hot water pipes can help reduce heat loss and lower your energy bills.

Frequent Need for Resets

If you find yourself frequently needing to reset your water heater’s circuit breaker, it could indicate an electrical issue within the unit. This might be due to a damaged heating element, a faulty thermostat, or a short circuit. Continuously resetting the breaker can be dangerous, so it’s important to call a professional plumber to diagnose and repair the problem.

Ensure your heater is connected to a dedicated electrical circuit to prevent overloading and tripping the breaker.


Keeping an eye out for these signs can help you identify potential problems with your heater early on, allowing you to address them before they escalate into more serious issues. Regular maintenance, such as annual flushing and inspecting the unit for leaks, can also help extend the life of your heater and improve its efficiency. By staying informed and proactive, you can ensure that you always have a reliable supply of hot water in your home.

Now that you know the key signs that your heater needs repair, don’t hesitate to contact a professional plumber if you notice any of these issues. A skilled plumber can diagnose and repair your water heater, helping you avoid costly damage and ensuring that your home remains comfortable and functional for years to come.