How to Know When to Replace Your Hot Water Tank

Hot water tanks last for years, but when they're on their last legs, there are symptoms you can look for to determine whether they need to be replaced.

You will need

  • Cold water
  • Less hot water
  • Leaks
  • Sludge or corrosion
  • Unusual sounds
  • Old tank

Step 1 Test the water Feel the water. If you turn on a hot water tap and the water is cold, or if you expect to climb into a nice, hot shower and are blindsided by icy water, it’s probably time to replace your hot water tank.

Step 2 Check hot water duration See how long your supply of hot water lasts. If you used to take much longer showers before the hot water ran out, there is probably a problem with the tank. You may need a new one.

Step 3 Look for puddles Check the floor around your hot water tank for standing water. If there are puddles or pools of water around the base of the tank or a stream of water running from the tank to a floor drain, there may be a major enough leak that you will need a replacement.

Step 4 Check for smaller leaks Inspect the fittings and plumbing connections. If there is water, sludge, or corrosion, there is likely a leak, and it may be time to get a new tank.

Step 5 Listen to it Listen to your hot water heater. If it frequently makes clanging noises, or if you hear pops or other unusual sounds, there is probably a mechanical problem. You will need a replacement tank.

Step 6 Check the tank's age Check the age of your hot water tank. Most hot water tanks are warrantied for 5 to 10 years. While many last for years beyond the warranty’s expiration, if you notice inadequacies in your tank’s performance and the tank is beyond its warranty date, it’s probably time to get a new one.