What to Do When Your Water Heater Breaks

water heater broke

Imagine waking up to a strange sound. You walk through your home, searching for the source of the popping, hissing, humming or rumbling noises.

With further inspection, you realize the sound is coming from straight from your water heater.

What do you do? If you want to avoid the frantic frenzy and costly repairs that a broken water heater will bring, learn the signs that your water heater is about to burst, how to turn it off if you suspect a problem, and what you should do if it does end up failing.

What causes a water heater to break?

Whether gas or electric, water heaters typically last 10-13 years – if you pay attention to them.

Sometimes, a water heater will start leaking near the supply lines, and if you don’t correct the leak, it could not only damage your surrounding floor and drywall but also lead to corrosion and failure.

Other common causes of water heater failure are internal rust, sediment buildup and high water pressure.

Improper sizing can also cause your water heater to burst unexpectedly, leaving you with a huge, expensive mess.



How can I keep my water heater from breaking?

As with any appliance, frequent inspection can make your water heater last longer.

Set an annual reminder to check for moisture or pooling water around the water heater, and tighten any loose fittings you find.

If you see signs of water or mold damage or can’t find the source of the leak, call the experts at ServiceMaster Restore® immediately.

The faster you fix the issue, the less damage and cleanup you’ll have.



What should I do if I think my water heater might break?

First thing’s first – turn it off. If you notice any signs that your water heater is about to burst, including any strange noises, immediately shut it off.

If it’s a gas water heater, twist the dial on the top of the thermostat from the ON to the OFF position.

If it’s an electric heater, switch the circuit breaker to the OFF position.



After you turn off your water heater,   follow these instructions:

  • Turn off the water supply. Turn the water valve located on your water heater clockwise until it stops. If it doesn’t move or turn off, shut off your home’s main water supply.


  • Drain your water heater. Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater’s tank. Run the other end of the hose to a lower area where you can drain dirty water without risking more damage. Then, open the drain valve. You may need to use a screwdriver or another tool to open it.


  • Open the pressure relief valve. Flip the relief valve handle to prevent a vacuum from forming while the water heater drains. Be careful – the water may be hot.


  • Rinse with cold water. After your water heater is finished draining, open the water supply for a few minutes to flush any remaining sediment out of the water heater.


Even if you think your water heater is in good condition, you should drain and refill it once a year as part of your regular water heater maintenance to keep it working properly and efficiently.

Simply follow the steps above, and then close the relief and drain valves and turn the water supply back on to refill it.


What should I do when my water heater breaks?

If your water heater is broken, find a professional to assess the problem right away.

If your water heater has burst or you know there’s water or mold damage to the area, call the experts at ServiceMaster at 949-537-1005.  

Our water damage services are available 24/7/365 to ensure you get the help you need, right when you need it.

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