Is Your Water Heater Going Bad? Look For These 9 Signs

Water heaters are crucial for comfortable living, yet they often fail unnoticed. Recognizing the signs of a failing water heater can save you from unexpected disruptions and costly repairs.

Water heaters show several signs of going bad, including lack of hot water, temperature fluctuations, decreased water pressure, strange noises, rotten egg smell, visible leaks, rusty or discolored water, and increased energy bills. If your water heater is over 10 years old, it may be time to consider a replacement.

Understanding these signs can help you act swiftly and make informed decisions about repairs or replacements. Continue reading to learn more about each sign and how to manage water heater issues effectively before they become major problems.

9 Signs Your Water Heater is Failing

Notice any of the following symptoms? A water heater replacement might be in your near future.

  1. It’s lived a long, happy life – Water heaters typically last somewhere between 8 and 15  years – and up to 20 or so years for tankless heaters. But if your water heater is getting up there in age, odds are you’ve been “slumming it” with subpar, not-quite-hot-enough water for several years. If your water heater has reached the 10-year mark, it’s time to start budgeting for a replacement. 

  2. Lack of hot water – Possibly the clearest signs that your hot water heater is about to bite the dust is the absence of…well…hot water. If your water never gets hot enough OR you can’t get enough hot water to fill a single bathtub, you probably have a sediment build-up issue on your hands. Over time, minerals filter into your tank and settle at the bottom. Perhaps, all you’ll need to do is flush out your tank to remove the sediment. BUT if the sediment has clogged or corroded your pipes, you’re looking at some much bigger repairs (or a full replacement).

  3. Water temperature fluctuation – Maybe you get SOME hot water, but it doesn’t last long. Assuming your water heater is the appropriate size for your household, it should be able to maintain consistent hot water for all of your routine tasks. Inconsistent water temperature may just be a sign of a broken thermostat. But that’s not always the case.

  4. Decreased water pressure – Water temperature isn’t the only factor that will take a dip when your water heater is on its way out. If the water comes out noticeably slower when you’re running “hot” water than when you’re running cold water, you can probably assume there’s something wrong (probably excess sediment in your tank).

  5. Strange noises – Knocking, clanging, taps, banging…any out of the ordinary sounds coming from your water heater are cause for concern. Such noises suggest your heating element is broken, you’ve got too much sediment in your tank, or there’s an issue with your valves, connections, or water flow.

  6. Funky smell – Do I smell…sniff, sniff…rotten eggs? This distinct eggy smell suggests the presence of potentially harmful bacteria in your water heater. Whether you notice the smell from your tap or your water tank, it’s time to call a plumber.

  7. Visible leaks – Over time, water heaters just wear down. And the older they are, the more likely they are to develop holes and leaks. Check for pools of water around your heater or leaks in your valves and pipes. If you find any, turn your water heater off immediately. It could just be a simple loose connection, BUT it may be a much more serious problem. And the last thing you want is to accidentally flood your home because of an unmonitored leak.

  8. Rusty, discolored, or cloudy water – We probably don’t have to tell you this…but yellow or brown water is NOT a good sign. When there is rust or corrosion somewhere in your water tank or pipes, residue can come through your tap. The result? Murky, metallic-tasting water (and likely a necessary water heater replacement sooner rather than later).

  1. A spike in your energy bill – This is yet another perk of mineral build-up in your water heater. The more sediment that collects in your tank, the harder your heater has to work to heat and move water where it needs to go. Flushing out your tank every couple of years can help maintain your water heater’s energy efficiency. But as your tank ages, other issues – like leaks, poor insulation, a broken thermostat, or a bad heating element – can push your energy bill up even higher.


If in doubt, call your friendly local plumber!

The team here at Odyssey Mechanical provides prompt, reliable plumbing services to commercial and residential customers in and around Wilmington, North Carolina. 

We know a broken water heater is a BIG inconvenience. 

So, once you contact our team, we’ll get a technician to you within a matter of hours to check on your water heater. If a replacement is necessary, we’ll act fast to install your new water as soon as possible – more often than not, the very same day!


Odyssey Mechanical, LLC | Wilmington, NC Plumbing

Odyssey Mechanical is a full-service Wilmington handyman company. We handle everything – from plumbing and electrical to gas and HVAC. No matter what we’re doing, we do it with the greatest care and attention to detail.  

Is your water heater failing? Call our plumbing technicians at 910-212-6993.



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