An unexpected water heater failure is an unpleasant surprise, to say the least. Your home could be left without warm water, and even a flooded basement. To help you avoid the disruption and damage of a failing water heater, here are five warning signs that indicate it may be time for a water heater replacement. Leaks or Pools of Water Around the Water Heater Tank Water puddles can be a sign that a valve needs to be tightened or replaced. Leaks and corrosion can also mean that the water heater has reached the end of its life and may be at risk of bursting. Drips and leaks can escalate. Consult with a plumber to see if repairs are possible, or if it is time for a new water heater. Lukewarm Water Even at the Hottest Temperature Setting Have your showers been lukewarm despite having your shower handle at the hottest temperature setting? Is it taking longer to get hot water from the tap? A common sign of a failing water heater is a lack of sufficient hot water. Consult with a plumber to see if the water heater needs flushing or other repairs, or if a water heater replacement is in order. Contaminated Water Coming Out of the Faucet The contaminated water can come in many different forms: sandy or muddy water, hot water with a metallic taste or smell, or water with rust particles. First, determine if the contamination is in your cold or hot water. If only hot water is affected, the problem may lie with the water heater. Flushing the tank’s contents to remove sediment, or replacing the sacrificial anode rod may solve this problem. If left unaddressed, this issue can worsen and lead to rust damaging the inside of the tank and ultimately the need for a new water heater. Consult a plumber to see what maintenance or repairs can be done to keep your water heater working properly. Repairs Keep Adding Up Are you calling for repairs more than twice a year? If so, start planning for a new water heater now, and avoid the hassle of an emergency replacement. Water Heater Is More Than 10 Years Old An important question to ask yourself when deciding to replace your water heater is, “How long has the water heater been in my house?” ENERGY STAR® recommends replacing your storage water heater if it’s more than 10 years old. A decline in the performance of water heaters due to age is inevitable. Be proactive and replace it with an ENERGY STAR certified water heater before it fails. Water heater replacement may be costly upfront, but upgrading to an ENERGY STAR certified water heater can save you more money in long-term. ENERGY STAR natural gas storage and tankless water heaters use around 10% less energy than standard gas water heaters and can save you hundreds of dollars over its lifetime. Washington Gas offers rebates to help upgrade to a new high-efficiency models. To qualify, eligible equipment must be purchased and installed by a qualified participating contractor in the Washington Gas Home Energy Savings Contractor Network. Virginia and Maryland Washington Gas customers can take advantage of rebates here.