(608) 501-8281

Whether you’re cleaning dishes in the kitchen or running yourself a bath after a long day’s work, hot water adds a lot to our quality of life. While we may take it for granted in the moment, there’s nothing worse than realizing something’s wrong just as you’re about to step into the shower. Brrr. 

So what do you need to know about water heaters and when to replace them? 

First, it’s important to note that as a homeowner you should be carrying out regular, routine inspections on all major plumbing appliances and systems. This will make it more likely for you to catch obvious issues before they cause major damage to your home, saving you a lot of money and energy down the line. 

When it comes to your water heater, there are 5 major tell-tale signs that will help you determine if your water heater needs an upgrade.

Age of the Heater 

While wine gets better with age, your water heater does not. How often you use your hot water heater can play a role in its longevity, but an average water heater is designed to last for around 10 years. There are a couple of exceptions that make that timeline shorter such as gas water heaters, which are more likely to fall in the 6-8 year range. So, if your water heater is nearing the decade mark, it is definitely time to get it checked by a professional. 

Pro tip: If you are unsure of the age of the heater, you can always check the serial number. 


Rust, or the oxidation of materials due to moisture being present, is never a welcome guest. Rust can eat its way through steel pipes so its presence could indicate that leaks are on their way. Rust is also a sign that your water is picking up corrosion from the heater, which can become dangerous to consume. So if you start to notice either rust on your water heater or in your water, it’s time to call in a professional and get it checked. 

Noises and Smells

For the most part, you will not notice your hot water heater running, as it is usually a quiet device. However, when sediment hardens from the heating process and begins bouncing around the water heater, it will begin to make more noise. So if you hear rattling noises, it might be your sign to upgrade it to a newer one. Another indicator is musty or moldy smells, so if you notice anything off about its odor, make sure to call your professional.

Pro tip: Your water heater should be flushed once a year regardless of its age. This will drain out any sediment and ensure your device lasts for the full ten years. 

Standing Water and Leaks

The water from your water heater should be contained within the tank itself and not pooled around it for any reason. If you notice any water outside the tank, we recommend calling a professional as this could be indicative of a bigger problem such as a leak or a fracture in the tank.

Cold Water

Our last sign is the most obvious of all. It’s common to assume that having no hot water at all is the only indicator that your hot water heater needs replacing, but that can also be the case if you find yourself waiting a long time at the sink for the water to heat up or if you have to wait 5+ minutes to get in the shower. Heating up your water should be a relatively quick process. If it’s taking longer than usual, it’s time to call in a professional to see if your water heater is nearing the end of its life. 

For most, hot water is one of those things you don’t think about daily. You simply enjoy its benefits and are thankful it’s there, but if you are experiencing any of the above and have questions about your water heater, we’re here to help. Call us at (608) 501-8281 to get them answered.