Signs That Your Water Heater Is Failing – and What to Do About It

what to do if my water heater is failing western North Carolina

As well built as today’s water heaters are, a conventional water heater (one with a storage tank) will still only last an average of up to 12 years, according to Once they near their second decade, they usually start showing signs that they’re heading down for the count.

But why does a water heater fail in the first place, and is there anything you can do to slow or prevent a water heater breakdown? Here are some insights from our water heater experts.

Common water heater problems and prevention

  1. Problem 1: Rust – Left to its own defenses, the inside of a water heater storage tank would last only a matter of months before corrosion would start to settle in. Luckily for the tank, a water heater also contains an anode rod – a steel core wire surrounded with either aluminum, magnesium or zinc that mounts to the top of your water heater tank. The anode rod draws corrosion to itself rather than the tank lining (the anode rod is sometimes called a “sacrificial rod” for this reason). A typical anode rod will last about five years – if you use a water softener, that number can get cut in half. Once an anode rod rots, it needs to be replaced quickly to prevent accelerated tank rust.

    Solution: Get regular professional water heater maintenance, and be sure he checks your anode rod when he inspects your equipment; do this a minimum of once every other year. Or, replace your conventional water heater with a tankless propane water heater, which stores no water at all!

  2. Problem 2: A buildup of sediment – When water is heated, mineral deposits separate and settle onto the bottom of your water heater tank. Over time, these sediments accumulate, reducing the efficiency of your water heater and potentially damaging the tank.

    Solution: Flush your water heater once a year.

  3. Problem 3: High water pressure – Water pressure that is set too high can damage your water heater, pipes, and appliances. If water is leaking from the overflow pipe on the side of your water heater, you could have a water pressure problem.

    Solution: Keep the water pressure on your heater no higher than 80 psi, and consider replacing your temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve.

  4. Problem 4: A mis-sized water heater – A water heater that is too small for the water heating load of your family will overwork to do its job, leading to wear and tear and a potential premature breakdown.

    Solution: Contact a water heater expert to make sure your current water heater is right-sized for your home and lifestyle.

  5. Problem 5: Age – Once a conventional water heater reaches its second decade, it’s living on borrowed time. Keep an eye out for some of the telltale signs of water heater mentioned above, plus any other obvious signs of diminished performance (higher energy bills, for example).

    Solution: If your water heater is at the end of its life span, consider replacing it with a reliable new high-efficiency water heater upgrade.

Having problems with your water heater? Don’t delay – contact the pros at James Oxygen for expert water heater maintenance, water heater repairs, and water heater installations in western North Carolina. We feature top quality Rinnai propane tankless water heaters and more – and don’t forget to ask us about special rebates that can save you an additional $150 on a propane tankless water heater installation!