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5 Common Symptoms of a Failing Water Heater

| Saturday October 22, 2022

Having your water heater give out and fail on you during your hot shower or bath is highly frustrating, especially if this happens during the colder months of the year when you want to indulge in a nice, comfortable, relaxing hot shower or bath. 

While a common sign of a failing water heater is the constant lack of hot water, other symptoms can indicate that your water heater unit will also give out. Identifying these symptoms can help you take pre-emptive measures to ensure that you are more well-prepared to handle issues that may arise with your water heater. 

Introduction to Water Heaters

With the need for a consistently warm water supply increasing over the years, more people are purchasing water heating units for their residential or commercial properties to better cater to their hot water needs. These water heating solutions provide users instant access to heated water that they can use for various tasks, such as preparing meals, dishwashing, cleaning, and taking showers or baths. While water heaters are especially vital in places where temperatures can drop drastically, people living in tropical countries, like the Philippines, can still benefit significantly from investing in water heating solutions – such as storage water heaters and instant water heaters. 

Storage or instant water heating unit providing adequate warm water when needed is a game changer for many households. However, there are instances when the residents take their readily available and instant access to heated water for granted, especially if they have been using the water heating appliance for a long time. This leads to them overlooking the warning signs that their water heater is failing, resulting in them needing to spend an unnecessary amount of money on repair or replacement units. 

An abrupt breakdown of a water heating unit rarely happens and is not something that occurs overnight. Various factors contribute to a water heater’s gradual failure, which can be easily noticed if the homeowner observes and notes how their heaters perform over time. Learning about the different signs of a failing water heater can help consumers prepare for possible repairs needed in the future. 


The Water Heater’s Age

No appliance is produced to last forever. Eventually, all appliances must be replaced, especially if those tools are subject to heavy use for a prolonged period. And water heaters are no exception to this. Depending on what type of heater it is (such as storage water heaters or instant water heaters), most water heaters in the market have at least a lifespan of approximately 10-15 years. Most warning signs of a failing water heater can be attributed to the water heater’s age, and more common issues will appear as the water heating unit gets older. 

For example, Rheem’s instant water heaters have an estimated lifespan of twenty years if maintained properly. Although Rheem’s tankless water heaters are built to be durable, dependable, and long-lasting, a time will come when maintenance repairs will be needed, especially if the unit is already over ten years in service. Homeowners must know when the unit is manufactured to see when they should start saving money to invest in a new water heating system.

With Rheem’s Prestige Instant Water Heater series, users can enjoy more convenience and cost savings if there are any issues with the water heating unit. The Prestige Instant Water Heater series has a replaceable stainless-steel heating chamber and a replaceable Incoloy heating element. This means that if there are any issues with these parts, users only need to replace either their heating chamber or heating element instead of repairing or changing the whole unit. 

Instant water heaters make it much easier for property owners to remember to check on their water heating unit as it is much more accessible and conveniently located in their bathroom or yard. However, with storage water heaters usually hidden behind a false ceiling or hidden away in the corner of the ceiling, homeowners are more likely to overlook regular inspections and checks on the appliance until there are obvious issues with their appliance. Thus, to prevent any significant problems, homeowners should consciously check their storage water heater.   

Another thing to note is that, when moving into a new apartment, it would be good to find out how old their previously installed appliances are from the previous owners. This would be useful in estimating the remaining lifespan of your water heater or other frequently used appliances. 


Water Leaks in the Tank

Like the plumbing systems around a property, a leak in the water heater unit is never a good sign for its users. A leaking water heater tank can happen for various reasons, such as old age, loose screws, lack of proper maintenance, or an internal buildup of sediments. The leak might also occur if the water heating unit’s valves are not properly closed, indicating incorrect pressure levels in the tank.  

Either way, a puddle or damp spot under the water heating unit should already be a cause of concern for the homeowner, as this is not a common occurrence with a well-functioning water heater. Contacting an experienced and trusted plumber can help identify the cause of the leak and provide solutions on how it can be fixed as soon as possible. 


Foul-Smelling and Discolored Warm Water Supply

Another noticeable sign of a failing water heater can be observed from the water coming out of the water heater. For starters, noticing an unpleasant smell with the heated water coming out of the water heater might be caused by an extensive amount of rust and bacteria that has settled in the tank. This is primarily if the water heater’s built-in anode rod is not operating efficiently or has corroded. It can also be attributed to the old plumbing system of the property, where metals in iron pipes leach into the running water. 

Another indicator of a failing water heater is when the warm water coming out of the water heater has a cloudy appearance or has an unusual color. This is also often caused by a declining anode rod, which is supposed to attract the corrosive elements in the incoming water or water in the inner tank to prevent the internal parts and coating of the water heater tank from rapid deterioration. Apart from this, the inner layer in a tank will also start to rust and corrode over time, and the decay will mix up with water, causing the water to develop an unusual color or smell.

Rheem’s storage water heaters are equipped with a sacrificial magnesium anode rod to counter aggressive water, which helps to prolong the lifespan of the water heating unit. An anode rod helps to attract the sediment and other minerals in the water so that the rod will corrode instead of the inner tank of the water heater. Since the primary function of an anode rod is to be a sacrificial element so that the water heater lasts longer, it would be essential to ensure that the rod operates efficiently. Reach out to a certified plumber to do regular maintenance and checks.


Strange Sounds Emitting from the Water Heating Unit

With the constant technological advancements in the industry, most water heaters available in the market are made to only produce as minimal sound as possible. Rheem’s Prestige® Instant Water Heater series is outfitted with a quiet DC pump on selected models to provide excellent water pressure with minimal sound. This allows users to enjoy their showers at any time of the day without disturbing their housemates.

However, if your water heater, whether an instant or storage water heater, has been making a weird noise, it might indicate an underlying problem in the water heating unit. 

The most common reason why water heaters may produce a strange noise is when there is a massive buildup of sediments in the water heater. This usually causes the heating element to work harder than usual, leading to corrosive elements popping due to extreme heat. If this happens to your water heating unit, consult with a plumber to help drain the heater and remove the sediment buildup in the tank. 

For storage water heaters, the weird sounds emitted are usually similar to loud banging or high-pitched hissing noises. If your water heater is making these noises, it would be recommended to have your water heater unit checked out. 


Inconsistent Supply of Heated Water

Because of their capacity, storage water heaters can only supply a specific amount of warm water at once. Thus, for users who notice that their supply of heated water is running out faster than usual, there might be a developing sediment problem inside the inner tank. Failure to drain out the tank regularly can lead to sediments settling at the bottom of the inner tank, which will decrease the space available for hot water. 

An inconsistent flow of heated water in tankless water heaters can also be concerning. Instant water heaters are designed to heat the water passing through the unit, and not doing so means a potential problem with the unit’s heating element. This problem can also be attributed to a declining thermostat, which can be easily replaced with the help of a trusted plumber. supply-of-water-zscn23


As the demand for hot water continues to increase, more people choose to invest in water heating systems to cater to their specific and unique needs. Although most modern water heaters are built to last, the time will come when the heater starts showing signs of failure, something the owners must note. This will allow them to save money and the effort that might emerge to fix any issues from the unexpected breakdown of the unit in the future. 

If you are looking for a reliable, trustworthy, and high-quality water heating solution to ensure the optimal warm water experience for your showers and baths, why not consider Rheem

Rheem’s water heating solutions guarantee you the best hot water experience. With almost 100 years in the water heating industry, Rheem has constantly focused on innovating and creating more advanced, high-quality, and intuitive water heating technologies to suit our customer’s unique needs. With Rheem, you can enjoy reliability, durability, and functionality.

Browse our extensive range of water heaters and learn more about the types of water heaters Rheem Philippines has available on our website. For any inquiries or more information about our products, you can also talk to one of our representatives by clicking here.


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