How Do You Know If Your Router is Going Bad?

Regardless of how reliable your router is, a dropped connection, weak range, overheating, and major slow downs are all signs that it might be on its last legs.

I’m an internet aficionado who has spent years and years tinkering with and improving my WiFi. That’s allowed me to know how routers work, which ones are worth getting, and why they go bad.

This guide expands on those points by outlining the various ways routers can break down. It also studies signs you need to watch out for, how to test your router’s strength, as well as what external aspects harm the devices over time.

Key Takeaways

  • Slow downs, dropped connections, or uncharacteristic overheating are all the top signs that you need to get a new router.
  • Most routers tend to last anywhere between three and five years, depending on both model and individual workload.
  • Dirt, shocks, movement, and heat are all aspects you need to avoid as they can greatly lower your router’s lifespan.

Signs You Need a New Router

Most modern routers have a good amount of durability. Even so, there’s no guarantee that yours will be able to stick around for an extended period of time. Everything has an expiration date, and it’s important to know when that day is close by.

There are several signs you can look out for to know if your router is in its final days. One of the easiest is to note any persistent connection issues. As routers are made to link up to the internet, if they’re struggling to build a connection they are likely not doing well.

On top of that, always monitor your router’s range and speed. If either one is taking a huge hit, it’s likely a sign of a bigger issue. The devices don’t typically shut down all at once, so if you see a gradual shift it might be time to move on to something else.

Overheating is another telltale sign of a faulty router. The machines typically don’t do a lot of heavy lifting, nor are they often under a lot of stress. That means they aren’t prone to heat issues. If they do get too hot, the hardware is likely overwhelmed.

Beyond that, also look out for both sudden stoppages or extreme slowdowns. Both suggest deeper problems that aren’t worth fixing. Watch the indicator lights as well. Your router isn’t afraid to tell you if something’s wrong.

The Average Lifespan of Routers

Knowing the different ways your router might break down is useful. However, it’s also important to know how long you should expect yours to last. Every router is different, but almost all models last roughly three to four years. Some can reach up to five in specific cases.

Using the three-to-five-year window as a guideline, always keep an eye out for router problems toward the end of year three. When the issues start to add up, you know it’s time to make the switch and upgrade to a new device.

Even if you don’t see a lot of issues, it’s typically a good idea to replace your router once every five years. That can be shortened to three to four if yours is under a heavy workload from multiple smart home gadgets.

If you wait too long, you’re going to run into issues. Preemptively switching to a newer model will allow you to get ahead of any problems.

How to Test Your Router

There are several ways to monitor your router over time, but one of the simplest is to test how well it’s using your connection. Using an online speed test is the best way to go in that regard. Not only are they free, but they’re simple and take no time at all.

As mentioned above, checking the LED lights is a good way to know what your router’s doing too. Read the manual and learn what your router’s lights mean. Then, see which ones are lit and which ones are off. If the wrong ones are down, your router’s signal isn’t up.

You can also check the IP address of any connected computers. If you can use one computer on the network to ping another computer in the same network, your router is working properly.

What Causes a Router to Stop Working?

Ideally, all electronic devices would last forever. However, that’s not how reality works. With routers, there are a few different things that can negatively impact them over time.

Shocks and vibrations are two such aspects. Jostling, accidental bumps, and even sudden movements all negatively impact a router’s hardware. You should keep it somewhere out of the way where it won’t get hit too much.

It’s also critical to keep your router clean. That’s because dirt or dust build-up can clog up the machine and cause it to overheat. The devices don’t normally have a huge workload, so they aren’t often equipped to deal with extra heat in that way.

Going off of that, the sun can hurt routers too. Warmth is never going to be good for electronics, and direct sunlight can certainly lead to more issues (including damaged wires or components) over time. Cooling and ventilation are both key.


These are some of the biggest questions (and answers) regarding how to tell if your router is on the fritz.

Can WiFi Routers Go Bad?

Of course. Routers are just like any other technological device, which means they are prone to wear and tear. They will break down over time regardless of how well you treat them.

Will Getting a New Router Improve WiFi?

Most of the time, yes. A new router is almost always going to be a strict upgrade over an old model, especially if that model has been around for a few years. It can create faster transfer speeds, improve playback, and offer a stronger, more reliable connection. 

Can I Replace My Own Router?

Yes. Though you can always have a professional do it, anyone with a bit of technological know-how can switch their router out at home. 

Final Words

Routers are great devices, but they do break down with enough use. Though most are only around for three to five years, you can get a lot out of any model as long as you know how to take care of it and cut down on any potential issues.

How long have you had your router? Have you experienced any issues with it in that time? Let us know in the comments below!

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