Signs of A Busted Water Heater: Early Signs of a Failing Water Heater

Most water heaters have an average lifetime of around 10-15 years without the need for replacement.

Signs of a busted water heater can be quite devastating, especially if you’re running an eatery or an apartment building.

For the effective running of the business, hot water serves a critical role in the dishwashing and showers; the thought of ‘no hot water’ is a no-brainer.

That withstanding, the average person is accustomed to using warm water to around 20 times a day.

Extrapolate that with the number of household members in your home now, hope the demands on hot water are brought into perspective.

In this article, we shall discuss the common early signs of a busted water heater and how to diagnose the problem.

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Early Signs of a Busted Water Heater

‘A stitch in time saves nine’ just like adage implies diagnosing the root cause of your busted water heater will save money.

It’s essential to take note of the below telltale signs because your water heater is bound to fail. Take note of the fact it’s not “if it will fail” it’s “when it fails.”

Signs of A Busted Water Heater (2)

1. Dripping or Leaking water

Any visual sighting of a pool of water on the floor around the water heater is a call to action issues.

Visually inspect to check from where the tank might leak from because depending on the positioning of your water heater in the house can lead to substantial property damage.

2. First Possibility # Condensate

Visual sighting of condensation is typically normal for high-efficiency water heaters but looks different on the standard (atmospheric) water heaters.

Due to this fact, high-efficiency water heaters are sealed combustion units. The process involved during the water heating process is bound to generate some condensate.

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The condensate is thus discharged via the condensate drain located at the bottom of the tank.

Standard atmospheric water heaters are built in a different mechanism, thus don’t generate any condensate.

Condensation may manifest itself on the outer jacket of the water heater, because of the constant temperature differences between the air outside and the water tank.

Condensation will also be evident after refilling the water tank whenever you have exhausted the water in the tank.

The refilled water is at a lower temperature as opposed to the external environment, suchlike having a cold soda on a warm day.


I would advise having a proper drainage system in the room where you have placed the water heater or an effective way of getting the water out.

 3. Second possibility # Leakage

Probably the most common sign of a busted water heater, most commonly found at the base of the water heater.

As a result of constant expansions and contractions in the water tank, a fracture is bound to form; this can be a slow process or might develop abruptly.

Note: High-efficiency water heaters are sealed combustion heaters and can leak without any visual manifestation. When the water heaters do leak, it’s visible from the combustion chamber.

When you do find that the water heater burner has been extinguished, and the heater won’t fire.

Unfortunately, there’s no remedy for this leaker’ other than replacement of the water heater.

Water leakages aren’t always a result of expanding metal; in most of the cases, it may be other components.

Check for wetness in the fittings and connections to the tank, or the temperature and pressure overflow pipes.

When you find out that the leakage is coming from these connections, then its advisable to call in your plumber to come and examine your fittings.

If there aren’t any traces of leakages from the fittings or the connections, then the tank is faulty, and the only advisable solution is to replace it.

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Third possibility # Temperature and Pressure valve

When you inspect and find water dripping from the pipe running down the side of the water heater, it’s a clear indication that the Temperature and Pressure valve is venting surplus steam.

A steady and slow drip from the T&P valve is expected, and there’s no need to raise the alarm over it. But if you’re troubled that the T&P valve is releasing quite some substantial amounts of water.

Then it’s about time to call in a trained technician and check on the integrity of your valve.

4. Corrosion

Even though praised for its durability, steel faces unmatched adversary rust. Though it sets in slowly, it will spread like a mold infestation.

Visual manifestations of corrosion is a clear indication that there is undoubtedly water leakage.

Corrosions around pipe fittings are bought about by mineral deposits seeping out into the pipe connections.

It’s often termed as ‘Slow leak’ because this gives your water heater a chance to limp for a while but can lead to disastrous repercussions if not fully addressed.

A slow leak either from the fittings or along the tanks’ welding joints is a ticking time bomb.

It’s therefore advisable to start looking for a replacement for the water heater because sitting around with a corroded or leaking heater won’t delay the inevitable.

Burn marks

If you happen to spot some burn marks on the bottom of the water heater, then it is a visual representation of two potential problems.

Note: the burn marks are predominately manifested in the standard atmospheric water heaters.

Scenario # 1-Improper venting.

Burn marks are a clear indication that the gas and the exhaust fumes aren’t exiting the system, causing back-drafting.

Quite serious and needs urgent attention, call in a technician to have the improper venting sorted out. Otherwise, your water heater is doomed to fail prematurely.

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Scenario #2 -Damaged flue pipes

They are located in the inside of the water heater. The flue pipes can get damaged or blocked.

If this is the problem, then you will have to do away with the water heater and get a replacement.

Yellow Frame

A standard functioning water heater will have a blue-colored flame heating the tank if the flames turn to orange or yellow; this is an indication that the burner needs to be serviced.

Note: This only applies to the standard atmospheric water heaters.

Just like the frame coming out of your gas stove, a yellow imbued flame indicates that the burning isn’t at its maximum.

For this, you will only need to clean or replace the burner, and the problem is sorted out.

Nevertheless, if you notice that the yellow flame is coupled with burn marks, i.e. (Point no.3 above), then its an indication that the frame is starved of air.

Loud Blower Motor

If your water heater came with a motor attachment and the blower motor is now unnaturally noisy.

An indication that the blower’s bearings are eventually bound to break down.

Requiring urgent attention because once the blower fails, the water heater follows suit because of the fail-safe mechanism the system comes equipped by.

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Note: high-efficiency water heaters come pre-fitted with the blowers, and if you’re using a standard water heater unless it’s a hybrid power vented system, then you need not worry about this.

Regrettably, some blowers are plain out loud, but do check and listen out for the sound being produced. Rattling or clicking metal is an indication that the blower needs replacement.

Conclusion on The Early Signs of a Busted Water Heater

It’s therefore evident that you should marry both the visual and audible inspections.

To thoroughly diagnose the signs of a busted water heater and thus hold up the ‘no hot water crisis’ before it materializes.

Seek the assistance of a professional when the need arises because preventive measures can make a huge difference eventually. (Source)

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