Don’t wait until the water from your faucet, shower or bath runs cold to ask yourself if it’s time to replace your water heater, especially during the winter months. Fall is the best time to check your water heater.

We’ve created a list of things to check. This way, you’ll feel confident making the decision to invest in a new one.

Check the age 

The average water heater lasts between eight and ten years. So, if you’re using one that’s older than that, you’re on a bit of borrowed time. Regardless of if your water heater is showing signs of wear-and-tear or not, we recommend replacing it when it reaches ten years old.

You can find out the age of your water heater by locating it’s serial number and checking with the manufacturer. Also note, gas water heaters last only about six to eight years.

Rusty water and tank 
Any sign of rust in your water or around the tank is a good clue that it’s time to replace the water heater. Rust is a sign that corrosion has begun in the steel water heater itself or the valves. Either way, once corrosion has begun, leaks aren’t far away. Another thing to consider is your family’s safety. Rusty water is contaminated water and another very good reason to replace the water heater.

Noisy heater 
If you hear any clanking, rumbling, or general loud noise coming from your water heater, it’s time to take a closer look. Water heaters should run quiet, and if they don’t you probably have an issue that needs repaired or a heater that needs replaced.

Hardened sediment that collects on the floor of the heater could be to blame. Over time, sediment can build up and weaken the steel foundation of the heater. When that happens, it’s best to replace the heater.

Another option, if the sediment hasn’t caused too much damage, is to flush the water heater. A professional plumber should perform a flush on your water heater every year. If you’re still hearing noise after the flush, it’s definitely time for a new water heater.

Water leaks around the heater 
While some water heater leaks can be repaired, if you’re noticing water around the base of your tank (especially when your water heater reaches an older age), it could be caused by wear-and-tear and the result of years of heating and cooling water.

Hot water expands metal. Over time the expansion of steel changes the size of the heater and creates the potential for leaks. These leaks can be costly if they lead to damage to your flooring – and dangerous if the leak reaches electrical wiring. It’s much more cost-effective (and safer) to replace the water heater at that point.

When to repair – not replace – the water heater 
If your water heater simply isn’t producing hot water, it may just need repaired. Some culprits that cause water to run cold (and only cold) include a faulty thermostat or one that simply needs adjusted. Your thermostat should be set between 120 and 140 degrees.

Other components in your water heating system could be at fault, too. To know for sure, contact your professional plumber who can tell you definitively whether you should repair or replace your water heater.

It’s not quite time for flannel shirts and holiday parties, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to get your plumbing ready for the colder months ahead. In fact, now that another September is in the books and October is underway, it’s the ideal time to do some winter home plumbing preparation.

Below is a list of the most important home plumbing jobs to take care of before the first frost. Most items require a mere simple inspection, while others require just a little bit of easy leg work.

When it comes to checking your home’s plumbing before winter, it’s much better to be earlier than too late. Take a look at the list below, and give us a call if you have questions or need an extra hand getting your home ready for colder weather. The last thing you want is a frozen, busted pipe to fix when you least expect it.

Start outside – This is the time to put the garden hoses inside. Fall flowers and plants require less water than those that bloom and grow in summer and your grass is likely not growing as fast.

Clean gutters – Check both the gutters and downspouts and get rid of any leaves, twigs, or other debris. If you haven’t already, install leaf guards to keep your gutters clear.    

Invest in insulated covers – You can find these at any home improvement center. These inexpensive covers prevent cold air from passing through pipes that open from inside to the outdoors, so you won’t lose heat.

Inspect your pipes – Take a look at all the pipes in your home and fix any that are leaking. When looking for leaks, don’t just rely on the sight of water from leaking faucets or valves. Check under sinks for any moisture, puddles, water marks and notice if you detect any moldy smells.

Inspect your water heater – Before the cold weather sets in, make sure to check your water heater and get it serviced. We recommend having the water heater drained at this time every year. 

Wrap pipes in unheated areas – You can purchase pipe insulation or heat tape at your local home improvement store, where you can also find kits that help keep the pipes from freezing.

Service your furnace – Since your furnace is about to come out of retirement, you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly and ready to take on the job of heating the house. This is a great time to get the furnace serviced by a professional. It’s also good to have filters on hand to change on a regular basis to keep the air clean.

Check the sump pump – Your sump pump is located in the sump basin or pit of your basement where water collects and drains. To check it, take off the lid and make sure there are no clogs and that it’s clean.

It’s easy to check these tasks off the list. Once you do, you can relax knowing you and your family will be cozy in your warm home, with plumbing that will carry you through the winter.