Often, the first noticeable sign of a problem with your hot water heater is that the water is no longer heating up. That’s pretty inconvenient, however, if it happens at 6 am on a Toronto winter morning when you have an 8 am meeting lined up! The good news is you can inspect your water heater regularly for signs that it needs attention, and hopefully head off the disaster that way. Here’s what to look for.


Hot water heaters have advanced technologically over the past two decades, and modern units are more sophisticated than the older ones. Few models carry warranties longer than 5 years, however, so if your water heater is older than that you need to keep an eye on it. If it is currently older than 10 years, consider replacing it in the near future with a newer model – some of which have life spans of up to 20 years.


Take note of how long your hot water lasts. If you find the supply no longer lasts as long as it once did, and some members of the family have to wait between showers for it to reheat, your hot water heater might not be working properly. This isn’t just a nuisance – it could be drawing more energy to heat the water than it should, and will result in high hydro bills. This could also be a sight of an electrical fault in the water heater, which that could potentially be a fire hazard.

Joints and Seals

Check all the visible joints and seals leading to and from the hot water heater. Look for areas where moisture can be seen, corrosion of pipes or other damage. Check for leaks from the tank or the fittings, and inspect the floor around the water heater for puddles or streams of water, which could indicate hidden cracks or leaks.


Put your ear against the hot water heater and listen carefully to it. If you hear banging or popping sounds, this could indicate mechanical issues. Try to establish how often you hear the sounds, and whether they occur while hot water is being drawn or while the tank is refilling. Your plumber will most likely know what the causes of the sounds are if you can describe them in detail.

For more information

If you experience any of these issues with your hot water heater, contact your local plumber for a free inspection and an honest opinion about your options. Don’t wait until your water heater dies on you and causes flooding as well as inconvenience.

  • Avand

    If you don’t know how old your water heater is look at its serial number. The last two digits of the heater’s serial number usually represent the year of manufacture.