Water heater research

Signs of a Busted Water Heater

(Last Updated On: April 13, 2020)

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Let’s face it — nobody wants the bad news that they need to replace their water heater. However, it is important that every homeowner recognizes the signs of a busted water heater for safety reasons.

Signs of a Busted Water Heater


Leaking is a common sign of a broken water heater. Most commonly found as a pool of water near the hot water heater tank, this leaking is common in tanks that are at least 6 years old. Unfortunately, when it comes to leaking, there is no easy fix. Leaking will require that your tank be replaced right away, or else you will encounter flooding or other damage to your residence.

Also, if you discover that the water flowing from the hot side piping in the home is rusty, it can be a sign that the water heater is rusting away on the inside and may soon begin to leak.

Valves and Corrosion

Oftentimes, the valves are first to wear out, which makes it impossible for the hot water tank to produce hot water at normal temperatures.

Corrosion issues may become a problem if you are forced to manually adjust the the tank to a higher temperature.

Malfunctioning Parts

Malfunctioning heating elements are also an issue. This manifests itself when hot water stops flowing from the tank completely. However, the secession of hot water flowing from the tank can also be due to the accumulation of sediment that could be building up at the bottom of the tank.

Sometimes the pilot light does not stay lit in a gas water heater, which is commonly due to a broken safety limit switch.

Irregular Sounds

Odd noises coming from your hot water heater are another dead giveaway that something may be wrong with your tank. Creaking, knocking, and whining are typical noises of a busted water heater, and are often a result of sediment having built up in the bottom of the tank.


Deterioration occurs when sediment sits on the bottom of the tank for long periods of time, to the point of causing irreparable damage. This leads to rust and the wearing down of the tank material, which will lead to leaking, corrosion, and a dead water heater.


More obvious signs of a busted water heater is when your water does not seem to get hot enough or is too hot. Sometimes the cure is as simple as adjusting the thermostat on the unit (the ideal temperature is between 120 and 140 degrees). However, if there is no hot water flowing out from the tank at all, then you likely have a broken heating element (or gas thermocouple if you have a natural gas water heater).

These are easy to replace parts and are an easy fix — so make sure you check to see if there is a simple fix before replacing your entire unit.

Age is something to keep in mind when proactively keeping an eye on your aging water heater. Units older than 6 years old have the potential to encounter break down issues. Many homes have very old heaters, from 15 to 20 years old, and if they are knocking, making noises, or failing to produce hot water consistently (or at all), then you should replace the heater in order to prevent failing of the unit unexpectedly.


If you experience any of these commonly found symptoms in your water heater, then you likely have a busted water heater. Always seek the help of a professional, and when you are able to, preventative measures can mean the difference in the long run.

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Tankless Reviews was created with the goal of helping people to understand the benefits and practical knowledge related to tankless water heaters. After purchasing my very first tankless heater years back, I realised that other people needed to hear about the incredible money-saving ability of this household item, and wanted to share my lessons with you!