3 Essential Steps to Take When Dealing with a Broken Water Heater

Discovering that your water heater has faltered can leave you in the cold. But there’s no need to let a broken water heater disrupt your daily routine.

At Diamondback Plumbing & Cooling in Phoenix, Arizona, we understand the importance of a quick, effective response. 

In this post, we’ll guide you through three steps to tackle a malfunctioning water heater confidently and easily. Our approach is straightforward and geared towards empowering you, the homeowner, with the knowledge and skills needed to address such unexpected situations. 

Let’s dive into the proactive steps you can take to mitigate the impact and restore warmth to your house.

3 Common Symptoms of a Broken Water Heater

Several signs indicate that your water heater may be broken; some of these signs are easy to spot, while others require the expertise of a trained professional. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common symptoms:

Unusual Noises

One of the first signs of a troubled water heater is often a cacophony of strange noises emanating from the tank. These sounds may include popping, cracking, or rumbling, typically caused by sediment buildup at the bottom of the heater. 

When the sediment is heated and reheated, it eventually hardens, leading to these unsettling sounds. Hearing these noises is your cue to examine your water heater or consult a professional to prevent further damage.

Water Leaking Around the Base

Should you discover moisture or pooling water around the base of your water heater, it’s critical to take immediate action.

Leakage can signal various issues, from cracks in the tank to loose connections. It is essential not to ignore this symptom, as the resulting water damage can cause further complications in your household. A timely inspection can help you determine the cause and the necessary repairs.

Inconsistent Water Temperature

Fluctuations in water temperature can be particularly frustrating, whether it’s a shower that keeps changing from hot to cold or a faucet that fails to deliver warm water when needed. 

Inconsistent water temperature is indicative of a malfunction within the water heater’s heating elements or thermostats. With the potential to affect your daily comfort, addressing inconsistencies in water temperature should be a priority.

Steps to Take When Your Water Heater Fails

Do you want to keep your family warm and comfortable? If so, you need to make sure that your water heater is in proper working order. If your water heater isn’t operating correctly, you may need to contact a professional plumbing company that offers water heater services

However, if you want to try to handle the project by yourself, there are a handful of steps you should take to get the best results.

Turn Off the Power

Before addressing any issues with your water heater:

  1. Ensure your safety by turning off your water heater’s power supply.
  2. If you’re using an electric water heater, locate your circuit breaker and switch off the relevant breaker.
  3. For those with gas heaters, find the on/off switch or dial on your heater and turn it off. 

Shut Off the Water Supply

To prevent leaks from worsening, shut off the water supply to your water heater. You can usually find a dedicated shutoff valve near the top of the unit. Turn this valve clockwise to halt the flow of water into the tank.

Drain the Tank

Draining the tank can prevent sediment buildup from causing further damage. Attach a hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the unit and let the water run out until it’s clear. Remember to open a hot water faucet elsewhere in the home to allow air into the system, facilitating the draining process.

Water Heater Maintenance Best Practices

To ensure the longevity and efficiency of your water heater, embracing a routine for maintenance is key. Here are the best practices you should adopt:

Regular Inspections

Keep an eye out for leaks, corrosion, and any changes in the performance of your water heater. This can stop small issues from escalating into larger, more costly problems.

Cleaning of the Tank

Sediment accumulation can significantly reduce your water heater’s efficiency and contribute to corrosion, so cleaning the tank annually is important. Draining the tank helps remove sediment deposits and can prolong the life of your water heater.

Anode Rod Replacement

The anode rod is a crucial component that protects the tank from corrosion. This component should be inspected annually. Most experts recommend replacing them every three to five years. If you are not comfortable checking the anode rod yourself, seek the assistance of a professional.

Scheduling Professional Service Checks

Even with diligent personal maintenance, a professional service check conducted by a certified plumber can catch problems you might miss. These checks can include thoroughly examining the pressure relief valve, heating elements, and overall system performance, ensuring that your water heater runs reliably and safely.

Implementing these best practices as part of your routine not only contributes to the effective operation of your water heater but also ensures peace of mind. Remember, proactive care is the most effective way to guarantee that your water heater serves you well throughout the years.

The Risks of Ignoring Water Heater Problems

Ignoring water heater issues is akin to neglecting a ticking time bomb in your home’s plumbing system. If left unattended, minor inconveniences can swiftly escalate into severe plumbing catastrophes. A minor leak can burgeon into significant water damage, potentially harming the structural integrity of your home and necessitating costly repairs. 

Additionally, consistent water loss contributes to wastage and can strain your home’s plumbing system, increasing the risk of burst pipes and water damage.

Moreover, an inefficient water heater can insidiously inflate your energy bills. When a unit is compromised, it requires more energy to heat the same amount of water, reflecting directly on your monthly expenses. This increased consumption strains your wallet and your commitment to energy conservation.

Health risks should not be understated; a malfunctioning water heater can become a breeding ground for bacteria, including Legionella, which thrives in stagnant water between 77°F and 108°F. If your water heater won’t heat water above these temperatures, it could expose your household to Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

The Risks of Neglecting Water Heater Maintenance

If you choose to neglect your broken water heater, you may experience one (or more) of the following issues:

  • Escalating Plumbing Issues and Structural Damage: Untreated leaks or malfunctions can lead to extensive water damage, severely impacting your home’s structure and potentially causing devastating plumbing failures.
  • Increased Energy Bills: A compromised water heater loses efficiency, working harder and consuming more energy to provide hot water, thus inflating your monthly bills.
  • Potential Health Risks: If your water heater is faulty, it may fail to reach temperatures needed to stave off harmful bacteria. If this happens, it can endanger your household’s health with conditions such as Legionnaires’ disease.

Procrastination in addressing water heater problems can incur significant financial, structural, and health costs, emphasizing the necessity of prompt and proactive maintenance. So, if you believe that your water heater is broken, you should contact a reliable plumbing service that you can trust.


In conclusion, staying vigilant about your water heater maintenance with Diamondback Plumbing & Cooling is more than an act of everyday home care — it’s a commitment to the safety, efficiency, and comfort of your Phoenix home. Don’t let potential problems develop into costly emergencies. 

Give us a telephone call today or visit our website to schedule a comprehensive water heater inspection or maintenance service. 

Our experienced technicians are ready to provide you with reliable plumbing solutions and peace of mind. Remember, at Diamondback Plumbing & Cooling, your home’s health is always our top priority.

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