You rely on your water heater to provide the water you need for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. But did you know that most standard water heaters only have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years? This life expectancy can be even shorter depending on the heater type, your climate, and how frequently you have the unit serviced.

Whether your water heater is pushing 15 or your unit simply seems to be aging, timely replacement represents the best way to keep the water in your home flowing as it should.

In this blog, we give you five common signs that can warn that your heater needs replacing in the near future.

1. Abnormal Noises

As you use your heater, sediment can build up in the bottom of the unit. If you don’t clean this sediment out of the tank, you may start to hear banging noises as the water heats.

Even if you regularly clean out the tank, an older heater may make rumbling noises as it operates. These sounds often indicate a problem in the unit. In addition to new noises, you may also notice that the heater needs more gas or electricity to heat the same amount of water.

2. Age

As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, water heaters only last about 10 years. If you installed your current heater, have it inspected when it turns 10 to head off any problems.

Even if you didn’t own your home when the heater was installed, you can determine the unit’s age by looking at the serial number. The serial number starts with a letter and two numbers. The letter indicates the month and the numbers represent the year in which a manufacturer made the unit. So, for example, a number beginning with “A06” indicates that the unit was made in January of 2006.

3. Hard Water

You likely know if your home has hard water or not since it affects the way you bathe, wash dishes, and clean. If you have hard water, your tank likely will not last as long as it would with soft water.

Hard water contains high concentrations of specific minerals, which is why it leaves rings in your tub and film on your dishes. Hard water also leaves mineral deposits inside your hot water heater, which can make the unit more inefficient over time.

4. Leaks

When your heater works, the metal tank expands slightly. Over time, this expansion and the following shrinkage can create cracks in the hot water tank. If you notice moisture on the outside of the unit or puddles on the floor around it, the heater probably has a leak.

Most units only leak when hot, so check for moisture while the heater is on. Once the tank cools, it shrinks and any fractures may close back up.

5. Rusty Water

Water heaters can experience corrosion as they age. If you have a rusty water heater, you will notice rust flecks or red-brown color in your water.

Rusty water can come from certain piping types, but if the problem is your heater, you’ll only see rust signs when using hot water.


If you notice any combination of the symptoms listed above, contact your trusted water heater contractor. Purchasing a new water heater from the same professional who services the unit annually often saves you money and offers a better warranty than buying from the manufacturer.

This expert will offer unit recommendations based on your household size, water usage, and location.

Watch for these signs to ensure that you replace your water before it becomes a major inconvenience, or worse, a safety hazard.

For more heating, cooling, and plumbing advice, read our other blog posts.