4 Common Causes of Water Heater Failure

4 Common Causes of Water Heater Failure

Water heater failure can be a major expense and inconvenience for consumers. These systems are pretty much essential for modern life, which means they need to be replaced or repaired promptly.

In this post, we’ll look at the common causes of water heater failure and how you as an HVAC professional can address them with your clients while still maintaining profitability.

4 Common Causes of Water Heater Failure


1. Sediment


Hard water is present throughout much of the United States. It has damaging impacts on all kinds of water systems, including water heaters.

Minerals in hard water solidify at the bottom of water heaters, preventing the burners from adequately heating water. In electric water heaters, the minerals will also form a layer on heating elements, damaging them.

This forces the heater to work much harder than it normally would, shortening its lifespan.

Chunks of the limescale also occasionally break off and float inside the tank, banging up against the sides. This can damage the tank internally, causing leaks.

A temporary solution would be to have your customer flush their water heater periodically. Many people don’t have the time or motivation to do this regularly, however.

A better solution would be to install a water softener. These systems will improve your clients’ lives in many ways, reducing the presence of limescale throughout the home and helping appliances like dishwashers (and, of course, water heaters) function more efficiently.

They’re also great systems for you as an HVAC and water filtration business to carry. They’ll round out your product offerings nicely, making you a one-stop-shop for multiple needs.

2. Lack of Proper Maintenance


While water heaters can be very reliable systems, they need to be taken care of. As many residential HVAC and water companies can attest, most consumers don’t bother with maintenance until something goes seriously wrong with their heater.

This doesn’t account for the fact that water heaters need their tanks flushed, anode rods checked, and temperatures adjusted – among many things – periodically.

And while procrastination will inevitably stop many customers from having this maintenance performed, service companies can certainly do a better job selling these services.

Companies often tend to neglect marketing preventative services in favor of pushing brand new systems. As this article points out, however, that’s a huge mistake. Promoted correctly, maintenance services can be a substantial source of revenue.

3. Improper Sizing


Water heater selection and installation isn’t something to take lightly. An improperly-sized unit will lead to higher-than-necessary costs and (if the unit is too small) a lack of adequately-heated water.

Unfortunately, there are many HVAC technicians out there who simply don’t know what they’re doing. When they sell these units to customers, it’s frustrating for everyone involved – including any technicians who have to service the equipment down the road.

If your company regularly finds itself in this situation, it may be a sign that competitors in your area are particularly incompetent. That’s a business opportunity!

4. Old Age


Nothing lasts forever – and water heaters are no exception. Customers can generally get 10 to 20 years of reliable service out of their heater, at which point inefficiencies tend to present themselves.

Based on my observations in the HVAC industry, many companies do a poor job of keeping easily-referenced customer records. Savvy businesses use software to set reminders about customers that are coming due for a service or appliance replacement.

Again, many customers aren’t going to do this on their own, barring some catastrophic failure of their heater. It’s up to you – the professional – to guide them.



Addressing these four common causes of water heater failure will lead to better customer experience and more business for you. I hope this article will prove useful in helping you achieve this! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section.

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