Some of the Most Common Reasons for a Hot Water Heater to Fail

Posted on: 16 May 2017

A home's water heater may work for years before it ever starts to fail; once it happens, however, you may want it fixed as quickly as possible so you're not starting out the day with a cold shower! Note a few common reasons for that heater to fail so you know what you may be facing by way of repair bills, or if it's time to replace the heater altogether.

Sediment in the tank

Even with a strong filter attached to your home's plumbing systems, water will still have some calcium, lime, and other minerals clinging to it as it reaches your home's water heater. Heating the water can allow this sediment to separate from the water, and then settle at the bottom of the tank. When those minerals cool, they harden. These hardened minerals don't get warm again very easily, and may maintain a cooler temperature. In turn, even when the hot water heater engages, the water may not get warm because of this cool sediment at the bottom of the tank.

In many cases, this sediment can be cleaned and removed. However, in very old water heaters or ones that haven't been cleaned in years, this sediment may be very thick and dense. In turn, you may need an entirely new heater altogether.

Broken dip tube

The dip tube is the piece that delivers new, cool water into the tank. The dip tube usually runs to the bottom of the tank, where new water can be heated quickly. If the dip tube is broken, this new water can mix with the heated water at the top or middle of the tank, and that stored water won't get heated. A broken dip tube is usually easy to replace.

Faulty heating element

The heating element of a hot water heater is like any other piece of the heater; it can eventually corrode, chip, crack, rust, or have internal parts fail so that it doesn't heat as it should. The heating element may start to break down over time, so that the water in the tank gets lukewarm rather than hot, and then the element may fail completely so that you get no hot water from the tank at all. The heating element is also something that can be replaced, but it can be expensive; depending on the age of the tank, you may want to get a new hot water heater altogether, to avoid future problems with other parts breaking down.