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Is Your Water Heater Failing?

Posted On: July 26, 2018

When you turn on the hot water, much of the credit for the hard work goes to your water heater. Water heaters are vital tools that keep your home comfortable, but water heaters are also overlooked, especially when it comes to replacement.

If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your water heater, the unit may be well past its point of retirement. Learn some of the telltale signs you need a replacement.


The age of a water heater is a quick indicator of how much more time the unit has remaining on the clock. The average home will find that their unit lasts somewhere between 8 and 12 years. If your water heater is approaching, or already at, the 8-year mark, have the unit inspected by a professional.

However, if you have a tankless heater in your home, you can usually get as much as 20 years of use from the system.

A professional inspection highlights potential problems and offers you a better gauge as to where your heater is at on the time spectrum. If your water heater has exceeded the 10-year mark, start researching replacement options because it’s probably only a matter of time before the water heater fails.

Energy Cost

An unwarranted increase in your energy cost could point to a water heater that is well past the point of no return. Generally, the older and more worn the water heater, the more energy it must use to operate. Your electric bill is based on the amount of energy your home consumes, so the more energy you use, the higher your bill.

An uptick in your water heater’s energy consumption will be noticeable, as water heaters make up around 18 percent of a household’s total energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In addition to needing to work harder, an older water heater may not be equipped with the same energy-efficiency features as newer models, which will also lead to higher energy bills.


Water that is discolored is a cause for immediate attention. After you notice the discoloration, turn off the hot water and run just cold water. Then turn off the cold water and run only hot water. If you only see the discoloration when running the hot water, the water heater is likely to blame.

Rust commonly forms along the interior surface of older water heaters. For a while, the rust remains intact on the sidewalls, but the rust eventually starts to chip away and settle in the water. Once the corrosion process begins, it cannot be reversed.


Water heaters vary greatly in size. More importantly, the size of the water heater should correlate with the number of people in the home. If you’re suddenly dealing with a lack of hot water, you may need to upgrade the water heater.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Energy says a small 50-gallon tank could easily accommodate the needs of a home with two or three people. However, for a family of five, the tank needs to be at least double that. If you and your spouse purchased your home before you had children, the size of the water heater is likely too small based on your family’s demands, which is the reason for the hot water shortage.

The warning signs of a failing water heater aren’t favorable, but the warning does provide you with time to replace the heater before it fails entirely and leaves you without hot water. Don’t ignore the signs. Instead, contact C.B. Lucas so we can look over your water heater and help you get a replacement installed.

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