It’s hard for the majority of people to imagine life without instant access to hot water. Modern homes count on a steady stream of hot water for showers, dishwashing and laundry. Most of us never think about our water heater until we start to experience problems.
Like any appliance, water heaters break down over time and need to be replaced. Most water heaters have a lifespan of 8-12 years. You can help prolong the life of your water heater with annual maintenance.
If your water heater is over 10 years old, having a licensed plumber inspect it is a good idea even if it’s not having problems. A plumbing professional can advise you on how much longer the unit is likely to last and spot any problems that might have already developed.
Sometimes a relatively simple and inexpensive repair is all that is needed to get several more years of use from an older unit. On the other hand, you might learn that your water heater is near the end of its life. This provides you with the opportunity to replace it before a major problem develops and you’re stuck without hot water.
Water Heater Repair or Replacement?
If your water heater malfunctions, a simple repair might be all you need. Heating elements and thermostats are two parts that commonly malfunction and need to be replaced as they age.
If your water heater is only a few years old, a repair might be the best solution. However, as your tank ages, you can expect problems to develop which might require more expensive repairs or a complete replacement.
Problems usually develop long before the entire water heater completely fails. If your hot water heater is located in an area where a leak is likely to damage your home or personal property, being proactive will save you time and money.
It's important for homeowners to recognize the signs that indicate it might be time to replace an aging water heater.
1. No Hot Water
If you wake up one morning to no hot water, there are several possible causes. For example, a tripped circuit breaker might be the issue. Or, if a gas water heater isn’t heating properly, the pilot light may have gone out.
Broken or malfunctioning heating elements or a faulty thermostat are also possible causes if your normally hot water is suddenly lukewarm at best. If a heating element is starting to fail, you will often notice that your hot water is barely warm. That means it's time to take action before you are left with only cold water.
2. Rusty Water
Rusty hot water is often a sign of corrosion of the anode rod or the tank itself. Replacing the anode rod is easy to do and can add years to the life of your water heater. Unfortunately, there's no way to repair a tank once it starts to rust and corrode and a complete replacement is then needed. At the first sign of rusty or discolored hot water, it's important to diagnose and correct the problem before more costly damage occurs.
3. Strange Noises
There are several things that can cause strange noises to develop in water heaters. These include sediment buildup, a malfunctioning valve, and water pressure fluctuations. If your water heater begins to make unusual noises, such as popping, knocking or banging, the first thing to investigate is sediment buildup in the tank.
Sediment buildup occurs when the minerals separate from the water during the heating process, and then coat the inside of the tank and other components. Flushing out the tank on a regular basis helps prevent sediment buildup and is recommended in areas where hard water with a high mineral content is an issue.
A leaky water heater could be a major problem but an easy fix. A leak could be caused by a leaking valve or plumbing connection that needs a simple adjustment.
If you notice water pooling around the base of your heater, it could be a sign the inner tank has corroded. If that’s the case, repairs are not an option and it’s time to replace the water heater before a complete failure occurs.
Slow drips and leaks can quickly escalate and cause serious flooding if the entire tank ruptures. At the first sign of a leak, call a plumber to resolve the problem if you aren’t able to easily correct it on your own.
5. Frequent Repairs and Service Calls
If your water heater is beginning to require multiple service calls and repairs, it will save you money in the long run to replace it with a new energy efficient model. Hot water heaters account for a significant amount of a typical home’s energy usage. Many homeowners find that a new water heater pays for itself in a few years in reduced energy costs.
Preparing for a New Water Heater
When it’s time to replace your water heater, there are a number of factors to consider. If your old unit provided plenty of hot water and you were satisfied with it, you might consider simply replacing it with a similar unit. Even if you install a standard tank water heater, a new model will likely be much more energy efficient than the old one due to updated energy standards.
However, if you weren’t satisfied with your old unit’s performance, there are a number of options to choose from today. No matter what type of water heater you choose, it’s important to consult a plumbing professional to make sure you are making the right choice for your home.
When your water heater goes out, fixing or replacing it on your own may not be the best solution. Hiring a professional to repair or replace your water heater ensures the job is done correctly and meets all local code requirements.
Call the Professionals for All Your Plumbing Needs
Whether it’s time to repair or replace your water heater, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter at (408) 716-1686 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
Our Lost Gatos technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience. We’ll diagnose the problem and recommend the right solution. If it’s time to replace your water heater, we’ll help you choose the right option for your home, replace the unit and dispose of the old one properly.