As with any major appliance, when a water heater fails, its effects are immediately felt. While you may view a failing water heater as an isolated incident, many other appliances refuse to work correctly without a consistent level of heat which can only be found in a properly functioning water heater. When a water heater stops functioning correctly, showers abruptly turn from a pleasant warmth to a shocking and frigid cold. Dishwashers are immediately crippled from effectively cleaning away grime, grease, and food buildup. Washing machines suddenly become a one-dimensional means of cleaning clothes with only your cold water setting to choose from. Since several problems can arise from your water heater breaking down, it is important to know the telltale signs which generally indicate that a water heater repair or replacement is in your near future.

Luckily, if properly maintained, water heaters can continuously operate for years without homeowners having to worry about breakdowns or failures. The severity of failing water heaters among other household appliances is apparent, as reports that “water heater failures are one of the top five sources of residential water losses.” Water heater repairs and replacements can seem daunting and easier to deal with by just ignoring minor discrepancies that you may be experiencing. By taking a proactive approach, fixing water heater complications before they become a major problem will make your repairs much more affordable and stress-free. However, choosing to ignore simple visual indicators, which we’ll outline below, could turn an easy fix into a much more costly and complex ordeal.

Signs That Your Water Heater Might Be Failing

Any Signs of Visible Deterioration or Discoloration

If you notice that your water heater appears to be deteriorating, you should consider calling a specialist, as water heater deterioration is often a sure indicator of a present leak, or a future leak if not promptly taken care of. If you’re unsure that your water heater is deteriorating, check to see if any discoloration, brown-like rusting, or water discoloration is present. Rusting often leads to rapid deterioration of water heaters, resulting in leaks and bursts. In fact, according to, “69 percent of all water heater failures result from a slow leak or a sudden burst.” Knowing this information, it is imperative that you monitor your water heater for any signs of discoloration or deterioration so that a small fix doesn’t turn into a major replacement.

Tripped Circuits and Short Circuits

If you’ve verified that your water heater isn’t suffering from leaks, rusting, or deterioration, but you’re still experiencing problems with your appliance, check to see if you’ve tripped your circuit breaker, which may cause an interference with the function of your water heater.

Tripped circuits are often due to an overload in the circuit, meaning that your household is using more amperage than the circuit can handle. Short circuits may also be a cause for your water heater failing. It is possible that two wires may touch, causing a “short.” This puts out more heat than your circuit can handle. If you think you’ve experienced a short circuit, you can easily confirm by searching for a source, likely an outlet, with a burning smell and visible discoloration.

A tripped circuit can easily be reset, and is a quick method to minimize the list of possible reasons for a faulty water heater. A short circuit, however, will require more extensive repair which could require the hiring of an electrician to fix your shorted circuit.

Faulty Pilot Lights and Thermostats

Another useful troubleshooting method to consider before completely replacing your water heater is to ensure that your water heater’s pilot light is constantly lit and not flickering out. A pilot light is designed to ignite your water heater’s gas burner when turned on. If your pilot is having trouble staying constantly lit, you’re likely to experience a lack of hot water. However, by simply trying to relight your water heater’s pilot light, you can know for sure if your pilot light is truly faulty, or if it went out due to unusual circumstances.

Once you’ve ensured that your pilot light is working correctly, you may want to verify that your water heater’s thermostat is in full working condition. A faulty water heater thermostat can lead to a multitude of problems including no hot water, not enough hot water, or too hot of water. A local professional can easily test the status of your water heater’s thermostat by ensuring that it is displaying the proper voltage amount. By taking a reading on the voltage of your water heater’s thermostat, your electrician can verify if your upper or lower thermostat requires replacement.

Achieve Success Through Prevention

As with many home appliances, prevention and standard upkeep are the best methods in avoiding damage to your water heater. The tips and methods listed above are just a few ways to check if your water heater is on the fritz. There are many other reasons as to why water heaters leak or ultimately fail, but with proper maintenance and care, a water heater can run efficiently for years. However, by ignoring the signs of a failing water heater, you could potentially set yourself up for a much more expensive repair or water heater replacement in the future. If you don’t feel comfortable inspecting or making repairs to your water heater, call qualified electricians around your area for a quote and consultation.

Trust Suffolk County’s Plumbing Experts

As a full-service, family-owned-and-operated plumbing company, Hubbard Plumbing has established itself as Kings Park’s trusted plumbing, heating repair, and remodeling and renovation service provider. Our customers trust our staff of highly experienced plumbers who’ve served the Suffolk County area and its surrounding communities for over 25 years.

If you are suffering from leaks, bursts, or faulty appliances, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert plumbers at Hubbard Plumbing. We’re dedicated to making all repairs in a timely manner so that your home may be restored back to its fully functioning condition.