When is the right time to pull the trigger and purchase a water heater replacement? That’s a question that many homeowners ask. Having the right answer could potentially save you thousands of dollars. Deciding becomes more difficult as small problems creep up in the system, gradually leading to more serious doubts about your water heater. To guide your decision making process, we’ve made a quick how-to on replacing your heater. Pay close attention!
How do You Know When to Replace a Hot Water Heater?
There are two ways to answer that question, both equally valid.
First, you can examine the condition of your water heater and compare your system’s health against the estimated years you have left. Most water heaters come with an expected lifespan. If you have several years left on the lifetime with only minor problems cropping up here and there, simply schedule a little water heater repair. The closer a heater gets to the end of its advertised lifetime, the more you should start considering replacement.
Second, you can keep an eye open for red flags. It’s rare, but there are a few signs that will tell you when it’s definitely time to retire your water heater. These symptoms may indicate immediate danger to your home or your person, and should be taken very seriously. We’ll talk about these in a bit.
What is the Average Life of a Water Heater?
While there may be some super-systems that last a tad longer, the typical lifespan of a water heater is 8 to 12 years. While that might seem like a short time, remember that your water heater is constantly running (unless you have tankless model). You can get that figure a little higher with consistent maintenance, but that’s the average lifetime. It’s also worth noting that a home’s water heater could last for only 3 years due to poor upkeep or a freak accident.
As your system approaches the end of that 12 year period, you will likely notice more anomalies and signs of degradation.
What are the Signs Your Hot Water Heater is Going Out?
One of the most prominent indicators of your water heater’s condition is the noise it produces. Mineral deposits, dirt, and other sediments will gather at the bottom of your water heater over the years (especially if it isn’t flushed). These sediments harden and create a clanging or scratching sound as your heater warms up. This greatly reduces to efficiency of your system and can even create minuscule holes in the side of the tank, which leads to our second symptom.
Leaks surrounding your water heater are another prominent sign of imminent failure. While loose fittings and damaged piping might be responsible, any leaks originating from the tank itself should not be dismissed. You can certainly cover up the degraded sections in the meantime, but you should call your local plumber and start talking about water heater replacement when you spot these leaks.
Finally, a third sign your water heater is on its way out is rusty water. Rust sometimes forms in the interior of your tank and eats away the metal. Now rust can originate in any part of your plumbing system, especially if you have galvanized steel pipes. Draining out the contents of your hot water heater (15 gallons or so) will let you know whether or not the rust started there.
Maintenance for Your Water Heater
If your aging system is still healthy, there’s no need to rush into a water heater replacement. As we mentioned earlier, basic maintenance can extend the life of your water heater and delay replacement. There are a few simple steps you can take to greatly improve the efficiency and lifespan of your system.
- Replace the Anode Rod Every 5 Years.
- Flush the Water Heater Tank Each Year.
- Install Insulation Around the Tank.
By completing these steps, you gain the following benefits for your water heater system:
- Reduced buildup of sediment in the tank
- Reduced potential for rusting inside the tank
- Greatly improved energy efficiency
- Increased lifespan (up to 2x)
As you can see, dramatic savings and added convenience is well worth the time and effort to perform this minimal maintenance. Consider the hundreds (even thousands) of dollars you could save by extending the life of your water heater.
Types of Water Heaters for Your Replacement
There are countless models and brands to sort through when planning your water heater replacement. You can always replace your current heater with a similar model, but high-tier options are also worth taking a look. Most homeowners are already familiar with basic gas and electric water heaters, so we’ll focus instead on higher efficiency units that have grown more popular these days.
Tankless Water Heater
One of the key problems with older water heaters is that they’re always on. Most homeowners would automatically think this is a good thing. After all, what’s so bad about having hot water ready to go at a moment’s notice? This always-on functionality requires a consistent use of gas (and/or electricity) to keep the tank heated.
Tankless models focus instead on providing an instant supply of hot water on a per-need basis. Cold water is directed through the heating unit whenever a hot water appliance is turned on. While the flow rate is lower than traditional tank models, the energy savings are impressive. Tankless models can be powered by electricity or gas. Without the storage tank, the required space for one of these units is very small.
High Recovery Water Heater
Recovery is a term that describes how quickly a water heater can heat water in the storage tank. Many electric water heaters can heat 25 gallons an hour. Gas water heaters can do a little better than that at approximately 40 gallons per hour. However, there are some models that can work dramatically faster. A Rheem high recovery water heater replacement (for instance) can replace 70-80 gallons of hot water an hour.
There are several key benefits of a high recovery water heater to consider when exploring replacement models, including:
- The reduced chance of running out of hot water
- A higher recovery speed if hot water does run out
- Availability in both gas and electric models
- In high efficiency units, less energy is consumed
Schedule Your Hot Water Heater Consultation Today!
Not every hot water problem needs a new water heater installation to solve it. Many homeowners simply need gas furnace repair instead. However, if your hot water heater is showing signs of breakdown, make sure you talk with a plumber. Our team at Twin Town Plumbing and Rooter would be happy to talk with you about your Tujunga, CA water heater replacement. Just give us a call at (818) 748-8615 today!