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How Long Do Water Heaters Last? Here Are 5 Signs Your Water Heater Is About to Fail

water heater fail

How long do water heaters last? Knowing how long a water heater will last is information that will swamp your mind when installing a water heater at your home. Just like any other system that you have installed at your home, water heaters require regular maintenance to enhance their lifespan. They will also fail at some point with continued use, thus necessitating repairs or replacements.

Water damage caused by water heater failure often necessitates costly repair, which is why you should watch out for any signs indicating that your water heater is about to fail. Here are some signs that you should watch out for to identify if your water heater is failing.

Lack of Hot Water

During cold winter months, you want warm water running in the shower. If your shower water is cold or takes too long to warm up, your water heater could be malfunctioning. Most domestic water heaters come with a storage tank of between 30 to 50 gallons. With continued use of the heater, mineral deposits tend to form at the bottom of the tank, thus creating an ever-forming barrier between the heater’s burner and water. As a result, less heat will reach the water whenever you turn on the water heater. As sediments continue building up, the heater is likely to fail and cease to work.

Rusty Water

If you notice that water coming from your taps appears rusty, it could mean that the heater is rusting away. To ascertain this, turn off the heater and draw some cold water from the taps. After that, turn the heater on and draw some warm water. If the cold water is more transparent than the warm water, there could be a problem with the heater, which indicates that it is rusting away, and that failure is imminent.

Rumbling and Noise

With continued use and the formation of mineral deposits at the bottom of your water tank, the sediment will get heated and reheated. Eventually, it will harden.  When this happens, banging or rumbling sounds will be produced by your water heater whenever it is turned on. A layer of mineral deposits along the walls of your water tank and the piping of your water heater means that more electricity or gas is being used to heat the water. A noisy water heater can signal that the heater is being overworked. Consequently, small cracks may start forming on the heater, thus causing it to fail altogether.

Cloudy Water

If your water appears abnormally cloudy and has a metallic smell or taste, the problem could be with the heater. As mineral deposits travel in and out of your heater, water gets clouded. Typically, the metallic odor and taste accompany these deposits. The funny appearance and taste of water could mean that internal components of your water heater are rusting away and therefore, it needs to be either repaired or replaced.


Arguably, this is the most significant factor that you should take into consideration if you think that your water heater is malfunctioning. Often, water heaters are designed to serve for not more than 15 years. Once they clock this age, water heaters tend to be too expensive to maintain. If your heater is more than 15 years old, that alone is a sign that it could fail anytime. Therefore, you must hire a licensed professional to provide an assessment of your water heater, and it’s overall health.

A water heater is a crucial component of your household, especially during the cold months of the year in Minnesota. It only takes one cold shower during a Minnesota winter to highlight the significance of ensuring that a water heater always works optimally. The signs mentioned above can help signal that your water heater is on the verge of failure.


About Steve Lehmeyer & Transition Realty

Farmington Real Estate Agent Steve Lehmeyer Transition Realty owner Steve Lehmeyer specializes in helping people manage real estate transactions in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. His experience in the Minnesota real estate market spans 20 years. Steve and his team work with clients to buy & sell single family homes, townhouses, condos, lake homes, and investment property.  Download a free home search app for your smartphone or search the MLS at