Know when to replace your water heater
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.
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.