Signs Your Water Heater Is Nearing The End

Most homeowners do not think about their hot water heater until a problem arises.  While there are regular maintenance routines you can perform on your hot water heater to extend its life, sooner or later its end will come.  The average hot water heater lasts 8 – 12 years.  If your hot water heater is nearing the 10-year mark, you should prepare for its replacement.  Replacing an aged hot water heater before its time can save you the trouble of being without hot water during the replacement process.  In addition, replacing your unit before it completely stops working can save you the headache of potential damage to your home.  Should your hot water heater experience significant problems, major leaks could cause significant water damage to your home.

The Unit’s Age

If you have concern about the lifespan of your hot water heater you should first determine the unit’s age.  While newer models should have the date of manufacturing clearly labeled, older versions will need age  decoded.  The age of an older hot water heater can be decoded based on the serial number.  You can find your home’s water heater serial number on the manufacturer sticker on the top section of the tank.  The serial number identifies the month and year when the unit was made.  It will be a letter of the alphabet (A – L) followed by a series of numbers.  The letter represents the month of manufacturing (A = January, B = February, etc.).  The next two numbers represent the year in which the unit was made.  12 represents 2012, 06 represents 2006, etc.  Knowing your home’s hot water heater age can help you plan for its replacement.

Additional Signs

Regardless of the unit’s age, there may be other indications that your home’s hot water heater is on its last leg.  Following are a list of indicators that could demonstrate the end is near.

Rusty Water

Metal plus water equals rust.  Because hot water heaters are created out of steel and aluminum, and their main purpose is to hold and transfer heated water, rusting is inevitable.  If you see rust-colored water from your taps or on the outlets and valves of your unit then your hot water heater is probably rusting.  Once rust and corrosion have effected your hot water heater, it is most likely beyond repair.

Noises and Rumbling

The sound of unusual noises coming from your hot water heater may be an indication that there is a problem brewing in your unit.  Typically dirt, calcium, and sediment that has built up in your unit are the culprits behind rumbling and popping noises in hot water heaters.  As dirt and sediment collects in your unit it settles on the bottom of your home’s hot water heater.  This sediment may jostle about when the unit works to heat the water, causing the noises you hear.  You may be able to flush out the sediment and dirt.  Over time, this sediment could break-down your tank’s interior, clog your drain valve, and even over-work or burn out your hot water heater.


If your hot water heater is leaking its days are numbered.  First determine the source of the leak.   Investigate puddles surrounding the unit to determine their cause.  If the leak is indeed coming from the unit itself, shut-off water from the unit in order to prevent additional damage to your home.

Reduction of Hot Water

If your water temperature has reduced to lukewarm, cool, or no hot water at all, your unit may be failing.  This issue could be the result of a number of elements on your unit being broken or malfunctioning.  A loss of hot water could also be the result of your home’s hot water needs surpassing the strength of your existing unit.  If this is the case, an upgrade may be necessary to meet your home’s increased hot water demands.

Maintenance Of Your Unit

Consider enrolling your home in Smith & Keene’s Signature Service Plan.  The Smith & Keene Signature Service Plan includes an annual inspection of your home’s unit.  Regularly scheduled maintenance may extend the life of your home’s water heater unit.  Additionally, regular maintenance can catch repair needs that could lead to potentially major damage to your home if not addressed early on.  Contact Smith & Keene for our team of highly trained plumbers and electricians to diagnose the problems with your home’s hot water unit or replace it with a new unit.



Call 757-420-1231



Smith & Keene has been serving the people and businesses of Hampton Roads since 1947. We’ve been in business for 70 years, because we put quality service and our customers’ comfort first. Whether you need HVAC, electrical or plumbing services, our qualified technicians and support staff are committed to the pursuit of excellence. Call us today to find out how our second and third generation family business can help your family or business.
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