5 Characteristics of a Malfunctioning Water Heater

A good water heater is integral to your comfort in your own home. When your water heater malfunctions, you’ll quickly realize how important it was to you when you can’t take a hot shower or when you have to boil water to clean the dishes. Looking out for the signs of a malfunctioning water heater can help you to call in someone and get repairs made fast so that you don’t spend any time without hot water.

If you are looking to buy a new home, you may not know that the water heater is on its last legs. Checking for some of these signs can let you know that the water heater is malfunctioning or is nearing the end of its life:

A Blurr Picture Of A Water Heater

There’s No Hot Water

You turn on the tap, and it takes a bit for the water to heat up. That’s normal. But if the water runs and runs and never gets hot, that’s a sign that there’s a problem. If the water warms up but never gets hot, that’s also a sign that there’s a problem.

Sometimes, when there’s no hot water, it just means that the pilot light on a gas water heater has gone out and needs to be relit. However, a faulty thermocouple or a blocked vent can also be the problem on a gas water heater. If an electric water heater isn’t producing hot water, it could be because of a faulty heating element.

It’s Noisy

Your water heater should do its job without making any noise whatsoever. If you turn on the hot water and start hearing popping sounds, it could be because there is too much sediment built up in the tank. The heat displaces the sediment, which releases air bubbles trapped inside and causes the popping sound.

You can also hear noises coming from the water heater if the internal burner overheats and causes the sediment to burn.

The Water Smells

There are a lot of reasons why water can smell, but sediment is a common culprit. If you run the hot water and start to smell rotten eggs, that’s a good sign that there is sediment built up inside the tank of the water heater.

The sediment can do more than make the water stink. It can cause the water heater to work overtime, which will make your energy bills skyrocket, and it can result in less hot water since the sediment takes up more space in the tank, leaving behind less space for water.


Take time to look at the water heater itself, and note if there is any water around it. Any leakage can be a sign that there is a problem with the water heater. Sometimes, the water can be the result of normal condensation, but it can also be a sign of a problem with one of the valves or of corrosion in the tank.

Some problems that can lead to leaks can be repaired, and other problems indicate a need to replace the water heater.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

If you are walking through a house and the electricity suddenly goes out, it could be because the circuit breaker has been tripped, and the water heater could be the cause. Water heaters can trip the circuit breaker when they draw too much power, usually because the thermostat has broken, there is a faulty heating element, or because there is bad wiring.

You won’t be able to know the cause of the tripped circuit breaker, but it is definitely something that should cause concern. Usually, the home owner would know about this problem before listing the home, but some may go ahead and list and hope the problem won’t present during showings. In other cases, the problem might occur for the first time during a showing.

The very best thing you can do to protect yourself when buying a new home is to hire an experienced home inspector to thoroughly evaluate it. A good home inspector will identify any problems with the water heater and let you know what you can expect. If issues are discovered during the inspection, you can ask for repairs to be made, the water heater to be replaced, or the price of the home to be lowered. You have leverage to negotiate. Don’t wait until you move in to discover that there’s a problem. Hire a good home inspector to make sure you have all the information you need before you buy.

ATS Home Inspections offers reliable Surprise home inspections, as well as inspections throughout the Valley Area. Our inspectors have many years of experience, and they are able to detect even the most subtle issues, ensuring that potential buyers know exactly what they are getting in a property and are able to make the best choices. Call us today to schedule your Surprise property inspection.


ATS Home Inspections LLC
Phone (623) 266-8846
Email: tkolb@atshomeinspectionsllc.com
Website: atshomeinspectionsllc.com