Most people don’t give much thought to their hot water heater. It’s usually just some appliance down in the basement that takes up space — until it doesn’t work properly, that is. Then suddenly it becomes all a homeowner can think about!

Do you know how old your hot water heater is? As much as we rely on them for everything from cooking and cleaning to showering and doing laundry, hot water heaters don’t last forever. And if you’re not careful, you may not notice you need a replacement until your floor is soaked and your hot water heater is completely useless! Fortunately, there are a number of warning signs you can lookout for, that will let you know when your hot water heater is compromised:

Your Hot Water Heater’s Age
Age is the biggest factor in determining your hot water heater’s performance. A gas water heater will last about 10 – 12 years (depending on your water quality). Electric water heaters will last about 10 – 15 years. (Note: Age is not the only factor in determining whether you need water heater replacement, but it helps to start thinking about getting a new one once your system reaches the 10 year mark.)

Rusty Water
Debris, water scale and rust inevitably collect and build up along the bottom of the tank. While you can’t see inside your tank, you will be able to see rust colored water as some of the gunk starts affecting the water in your taps. If you notice rust colored water, or rust stains left behind in your sink or bathtub, try to flush your hot water heater, or call a licensed plumbing contractor to determine whether or not you will need to have your hot water heater replaced.

Puddles on the Floor
This is one of the clearest signs that you need to have your hot water heater replaced. Whether you’ve got a small bit of moisture around the base of the tank or a huge puddle all over the floor, a leak in your tank will only get bigger until it completely compromises your hot water heater. If you see ANY signs of leakage under your hot water heater tank, call a licensed plumbing contractor right away.

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