7 Signs of Hot Water Heater Failure

Posted on September 12th, 2018 by carrolladmin

You may think that the only sign of a water heater problem would be a lack of hot water. Unfortunately, the truth is far more complicated. Hot water heater failure can present itself in a number of ways. You may notice some, but others will be less obvious.

If you pay attention to the following warning signs that your water heater is starting to suffer, you can take action quickly and possibly avoid expensive repairs and equipment replacements.

1. Water Is Discolored or Gritty

Inside your hot water heater there is a component called an anode rod. Sometimes it’s referred to as “sacrificial,” because the point of the rod eventually wears down and rusts faster than the tank itself.

The material of the anode, like magnesium, helps to keep the water inside the tank in a chemical condition that prevents tank corrosion. The trouble is that the anode usually needs replacing at least a couple times over the life of the tank.

As soon as you start seeing rusty or muddy-looking water, you know that your anode is probably gone, and as a result, your tank is corroding.

2. Hot Water Smells Off

On occasion, you may notice that your hot water smells strange, or tastes funny. Some people describe it as a metallic taste, while others will recall a “rotten egg” scent. These odors have different causes, but both may require some attention.

The smell or taste of metal may come from iron pipes that are leaching the metal into the water. If you have old plumbing, this might be the culprit.

Water that smells like sulfur or rotten eggs may originate inside the water heater. An interaction between anaerobic bacteria in the water and the anode rod can create this problem.

Cleaning the tank and replacing the anode rod with one made of a different material may be an easy enough solution.

3. Tank Is Leaking Water

Even if all you notice is a damp spot or puddle on the floor, it is an indication your water heater tank is leaking.

Water heater leaking can occur because of sediment buildup, lack of maintenance, or simply due to their deterioration over time.

If your water heater is leaking around the seams, the tank may need to be replaced. If the temperature/pressure relief (TPR) valve is dripping and pooling around the bottom of the tank, that could be a sign of dangerous pressures developing inside the tank.

If you experience a leaking water heater, seek prompt attention from an experienced plumber to identify the cause.

4. Heating Process Makes Strange Sounds

It’s perfectly reasonable to hear sounds come from your water heater as it heats the water inside the tank. However, some noises are an indicator that water heater failure is on the horizon.

If your tank fills up with too much sediment, a common problem for many homes, that sediment makes it harder for the water heater to operate properly.

With a model running on natural gas, sediment sits between the heating element and the water. As the water gets hotter, the sediment could pop or crackle. Electric water heaters with heating elements inside the tank have to work harder to heat through the sediment.

In both cases, flushing out the water heater of any minerals or sediment helps the tank to run more efficiently.

5. Hot Water Runs Out Too Quickly

Water heaters are supposed to be drained and flushed every year or so. If you avoid this important water heater maintenance task for a few years, eventually the sediment takes up more space that you would have had for water.

Over time, you may start to realize that even though you have a decent hot water supply, it never seems to last long enough. In many cases, if you catch this sign of water heater failure early, you can have the tank cleaned out with very little damage from the accumulation.

6. Water Never Gets Hot Enough

Enjoying a lukewarm shower on a cold day is never someone’s idea of heaven.

If your hot water supply doesn’t seem to reach the temperature you would like, you can always try turning it up a little higher. Be careful not to set it too high, especially if you have small children in the house.

When this does not seem to solve the problem, you might have an issue with the water heater dip tube. The dip tube sends fresh cold water to the bottom of the tank for heating. If the dip tube gets cracked, it will drop the cold water on top, where it will mix with the hot water and cool the water in the tank.

A dip tube may be inexpensive and easy for a plumber to replace.

7. There’s No Hot Water At All

When you turn on the faucet and hot water never seems to arrive, the first thing you want to do is make sure your water heater is on. A tripped circuit breaker could cut power to the machine, rendering it unable to heat the water.

If all the circuitry seems to be in order and the water heater is on, your water heater could be suffering from a faulty heating element or thermostat.

Without the heating element, either electric or fuel-based, you won’t have hot water. The thermostat tells the heating element to turn on. If the thermostat is reading the temperature incorrectly, the heating element won’t turn on to heat the water, even if it’s working.

Professional service can quickly identify the function of both of these components.

Preventing Hot Water Heater Failure

At Carroll Plumbing, we understand the frustration and inconvenience that comes with having a lack of hot water, water heater problems or even worse, no hot water at all.

Our team of experienced plumbing technicians offer hot water heater maintenance to prevent failing water heaters, as well as perform water heater repairs.

Get Water Heater Repair or Maintenance

 

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I called them a few weeks ago for some issues in an newly purchased investment property (sink and shower not draining, water heater not working). Unfortunately the issue with the sink was more extensive than we thought but I appreciated that he cut to the chase and let me know up front. They have been incredibly flexible with scheduling since we have had to coordinate some other things in the process with contractors moving cabinets, etc. They are generally in and out without a trace which has been great, and I felt that the price was reasonable. I am pleased with them overall and plan to use them again for my investments and primary residence.
Justine Zinskie
Justine Zinskie
19:34 11 Feb 20
I have used Carroll’s for about 25 years, at two houses. They are quick to come, and always pleased with their work and service. Highly recommend!M Borton
Maggie Borton
Maggie Borton
17:35 10 Feb 20
Called over holiday weekend w leaking sewage pipe. They advised cost would be high and suggested temporary water collection. Saved us money and earned our respect for their integrity. Made repair quickly after. Get service and workmanship.
Ben Hagen
Ben Hagen
16:12 27 Dec 19
Robert and Mike are great. Arrived on time and went right to work. I had another issue and they took the time to explain what I needed. I have more work to be done and plan to ask for them specifically.
Cat Momma
Cat Momma
16:43 25 Sep 19
Very reliable, knowledgeable, and courteous. We've done business with them for years and wouldn't call anyone else.
Elizabeth Roderick
Elizabeth Roderick
17:34 23 Sep 19
I have been a customer of Carroll Plumbing and Heating for over 30 years and would not go anywhere else.
Bill Fielden
Bill Fielden
23:38 16 Aug 19
I will never call anyone else again! They were so nice, super fast, and very efficient!!! Everyone from the receptionist to the dispatcher and the technicians. The manager even checked in on us!! Cannot say enough great things about this company!! Thank you so much!!
Jill Anderson
Jill Anderson
17:00 03 Jul 19
The guys from Carroll were prompt, professional, patient & reasonable. They diagnosed my problem, replaced the parts and were in & out within an hour. This was the first time I've use Carroll and I can guarantee there will be a second when the need arises.
Patrick Siewert
Patrick Siewert
01:52 27 Mar 19
Excellent Customer Service
Justin Bowman
Justin Bowman
12:08 23 Mar 19
Best plumbing, heating and cooling contractor in the metro area!
Jacob Ray
Jacob Ray
18:32 21 Mar 19
Excellent job and workmanship. We had an emergency issue that required a gas line replacement. They were on the spot, courteous, and professional. We never had to go a night without heat or hot water. I'll go back to this place for all of my heating and plumbing needs. Dustin is a great plumber and Bruce runs a tight shop -- personally making sure customers are happy.
Matt Gardner
Matt Gardner
02:48 23 Feb 19
Great service! I called them late Monday and they were at my house Tuesday morning the next day. Always have had a great experience with Carroll. Highly recommend them!
Randy Sklar
Randy Sklar
15:54 20 Feb 19
I called this morning due to my heat pump not turning on, they fit me into their busy schedule, great service, technician was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, definitely will be using them in the future for some plumbing needs, highly recommend them
Tammy Farmer
Tammy Farmer
20:36 23 Jan 19
Had an extremely poor experience with another plumbing company in Richmond and was sick of dealing with trying to get in contact with their "managers." My roommate found Carroll online and I called for an appointment. The receptionist that answered was very nice and seemed to know exactly who to send me to for immediate assistance, rather than have me play phone tag with multiple departments. A kind man named Bruce was over to diagnose the issue, walk me through the repair and how our aged heating system worked, and think of a creative solution that saved me over $500 off the total bill with a fair invoice that detailed the work demands and parts used--all in the same day. They may be a little pricey, but I was incredibly impressed with their speed, customer service, and attentiveness to the intricacies of aged baseboard radiators. I've never worked with any other home service companies who were willing to quote a new and innovative solution for a typically expensive repair. Keep up the great work!
TK Babington
TK Babington
04:02 20 Dec 18
Best plumbing company around :)
Brandon C. Adkins
Brandon C. Adkins
15:01 19 Nov 18
Carroll Plumbing & Heating has THE best customer service and response time of anyone I have ever used. I would highly recommend them!!!
Barbara Munsch Bayler
Barbara Munsch Bayler
20:10 12 Jan 18
I called this company due to an emergency that I had. My pipes burst and I had no heat or hot water and it was 14 degrees outside. Bruce was extremely helpful, kind and quick to solve the problem. They came out quickly, gave a reasonable estimate and stayed until they were assured the problem was fixed. Dave was a great help, along with the other gentleman who helped him. I will definitely use this company in the future and will recommend them to anyone with heating and plumbing needs! They are knowledgeable, have excellent customer service, and helped me out tremendously when I needed them. A+ job!
Kimberly Faith Earles
Kimberly Faith Earles
15:38 05 Jan 18
I called this company due to an emergency that I had. My pipes burst and I had no heat or hot water and it was 14 degrees outside. Bruce was extremely helpful, kind and quick to solve the problem. They came out quickly, gave a reasonable estimate and stayed until they were assured the problem was fixed. Dave was a great help, along with the other gentleman who helped him. I will definitely use this company in the future and will recommend them to anyone with heating and plumbing needs! They are knowledgeable, have excellent customer service, and helped me out tremendously when I needed them. A+ job!
Kimberly Earles
Kimberly Earles
21:49 29 Dec 17
The best customer service, honest, and fair pricing. I highly recommend them�
Stacie Platt
Stacie Platt
03:09 26 Dec 17
My Wife and I have been using Carroll Plumbing-Heating-Cooling for a variety of home plumbing (water and propane) "jobs" for approximately 4 years. Before describing our most recent experience, we wanted to share a summary of all the projects they have completed.Our first experience with Carroll Plumbing-Heating-Cooling was during the total remodel of our kitchen and laundry room. This was an involved project since we completely changed the footprint of the spaces and therefore had to relocate all the plumbing. We were continually impressed with their professionalism, attention to detail and most of all - the daily communication on the progress/concerns and timeline updates regarding the plumbing related parts of the project. Later, we decided to upgrade our conventional electric water heater to a Rinnai on-demand, propane-fueled water heater (including the installation of the required propane gas lines/connections, required valves). We consulted multiple contractors for bids and were pleased to see that Carroll Plumbing-Heating-Cooling were experienced installers/service providers of Rinnai on-demand water heaters and had competitive pricing for a "turn-key" project including the required Richmond City permits. We decided to go with Carroll based on our previous experience and were delighted again with the quality of their work, commitment to constant communication and competitive cost of the project.Approximately 2 years ago, we again contracted Carroll to perform the plumbing related work; upgrades, etc. regarding the complete renovation of our main, full-bathroom. Their attention to detail in execution and communication with not only us but the other trades (tile, electrical, finish-work etc.) was impressive and refreshing.Our most recent experience occurred during the week prior to Thanksgiving. On 11/19/2017, my Wife contacted Kim at Carroll Plumbing-Heating-Cooling regarding a problem we were experiencing (pipe-knocking/banging noises) after recently installing a new high efficiency washing machine. Kim immediately dispatched a plumber/Rinnai specialist and the identified the problem that day as a condition called "Waterhammering". The part was ordered and installed the next day at a surprisingly low cost. Carroll has always satisfied our plumbing needs - we don't hesitate to call them when an issue or project arises. Give them a call and experience their commitment to customer satisfaction yourself.
Craig Kodak
Craig Kodak
01:37 23 Nov 17
Carroll is the best HVAC & Plumbing company in town! Two years ago, I had 5 different plumbers take a look at a new water heater where the pilot was not remaining lit. All 5 incompetent plumbers (several whom has fancy commercials that air today) could not figure out the problem. The last plumber actually referred me to Carroll and I so glad he didn't allow pride to keep him from sending me to someone who knew what they were doing. A week before X-mas, Carroll came out, figured out the entire WH needed to be replaced (through warranty), and though they didn't install the old WH they handled the entire warranty process that included removing the old WH and installing the new one. The entire process was completed in 2 days. About 3 days after they installed it, there was slight condensation buildup on one of the pipes that concerned me and after calling, Carroll immediately came out and stopped it. Today, after turning the heat on for the 1st time since last winter, I noticed cooler air blowing. I called Carroll this morning and within a few hours the dispatcher had Jacob come by. Within a few minutes Jacob quickly diagnosed the problem (which was a closed valve that was mistakenly left off when they came out last time). Jacob was a peach and the dispatcher was very kind.
Tara Thomas
Tara Thomas
23:59 15 Nov 17
Carroll Plumbing was fantastic! They were able to get me an appointment the very next day after I first called and the technician (Kenny) that they sent out was efficient, friendly and explained everything thoroughly. We will definitely use Carroll for any future plumbing needs! I HIGHLY recommend them!
Christina Garnett
Christina Garnett
17:46 10 Nov 17
Carroll Plumbing came to our house within 24 hours of our initial call. Our technician, Dustin, was incredible. He was on time, polite, courteous and friendly. He fixed our shower, installed a new sink in our basement and replaced the main shutoff valve for our water. He was fantastic and we will ask for Dustin by name in the future. We have used Carroll Plumbing for over 15 years and were saddened when our former plumber retired. Fortunately, Dustin is absolutely top notch.
Blair Nelsen
Blair Nelsen
22:17 24 Oct 17
Carroll is always on pointe. They came today to fix a leaky and sticking shower. They had to take off 3 valve controllers to get to the problem and were very careful to keep all the trim and insides in great condition. I was worried about working on our expensive shower fixtures, but perfect job. They have done several fixes for me over the years - all great quality - so I figured it was time to give them the review they deserve.
George Smallfield
George Smallfield
18:35 31 Aug 17
Great team of guys...patient, pleasant and professional. Many Thanks!
Kennedy Forbes
Kennedy Forbes
23:38 11 Aug 17
Just the best in terms of product, service and follow-through!
Kathy Messick
Kathy Messick
19:06 13 Mar 17
I manage a business located down the street from Carroll Plumbing. We were having our internet upgraded and the contractor doing the work hit our water line. We were without water to our building at 3PM in the afternoon and were facing the possibility of having to close our business. I called Carroll Plumbing and they were over assessing the issue within 10-15 minutes. By 4:30PM our line was fixed and we were back up and running. I cannot thank Carroll Plumbing enough for turning what could have been a disaster into a tiny bump in our day.
Jackie Blosser
Jackie Blosser
20:41 14 Oct 16
Very thorough and personable, I've used their service for years on my HVAC units and recently had them replace my system, install new thermostats, and expand the ductwork. They are timely, clean up after themselves, always answer all of my questions and are never in a hurry. I will continue to use their services in the future.
Ryan Norwood
Ryan Norwood
05:07 02 Nov 15
Our bathroom sink was backed up and none of the usual fixes were working, so we called Carroll. They sent Charlie out right away and he had us fixed in under an hour, explaining what the problem was and how we might address it in the future. He was friendly, competent, and professional! We are planning to use Carroll from now on. Great experience. Thanks!
Casey Dokoupil
Casey Dokoupil
16:03 24 Aug 15
Had a problem with a dripping faucet. Aragon from Carroll came out on a Sunday, quickly diagnosed the problem, fixed it, tested it and explained to me clearly what had happened. He was very friendly, on time, worked quickly, and used his boot covers while in the house. It was a great experience.
Neal Lappe
Neal Lappe
12:16 16 Apr 15
Great company to deal with if you need plumbing work. This most recent need for Carroll was to replace my 16 year old hot water heater. They called me to let me know they were running behind and then called me to tell me the plumber was on his way. After the hot water heater was installed, the plumber reviewed it operation with me. I will use Carroll again.
Elizabeth Long
Elizabeth Long
14:48 09 Apr 15
We came home from work in early spring to find our furnace not working. Carroll came out the next day to look it over. They performed a quick fix until the part that was needed came in. They were back the very next day (on a weekend), working hard to get it working. Everyone from the folks in the office to the technician who did the work were professional and very helpful.I highly recommend Carroll Plumbing and will surely call them first when I need any heating or plumbing work.
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
00:48 18 Nov 14
We are in the process of renovations on our 1932 home. Bruce, Jeff, and Jim have provided great service and technical expertise on boiler and hot water heater replacement, HVAC, and general plumbing. They and their assistants are on-time, courteous, friendly, patient, responsive, skilled professionals. We couldn't be more pleased!
Camille Harris
Camille Harris
01:05 22 Oct 14
My first encounter with Carroll Plumbing and Heating was in 2006, while working for a competitor of Carroll's. As I recall, I was intimidated and thought, "I would never be able to work for them (Carroll Plumbing and Heating, CH&H)". C.P.& H. does not just rip out and replace. This company specializes in repairs. Finding innovative ways of making difficult situations work in their favor, for the sake of the customer. When I went to apply for a job, I was taken in and assigned to work with Tommy Hall. Tommy taught me so much about plumbing, I now can use his snarky remark of "I forgot more about plumbing than you know" when I talk to other plumbers. Today, I own and operate a sewer and drain company in Massachusetts. Just yesterday, I was given such a complement and was reminded, I learned from the best.
James Leasure
James Leasure
04:21 02 Jun 14