Most of us have a water heater installed to provide us with warm running water. Temperatures in the United States can drop quickly at night, making it impossible to enjoy a bath without warm water. In fact, we use warm water for many other purposes as well, which puts a lot of strain on the device.
As time goes on, that strain can cause the water heater to malfunction, requiring a water heater replacement since repairs may not always be possible. If your heater hasn’t been working well, it might be time to invest in a new one.
Let’s know more about when to replace your water heater:
How Long Do Water Heaters Typically Last?
While the life of a heater depends on a number of factors including the company, style, usage, maintenance, etc. A tank style heater typically lasts for about 10 years.
Tankless water heaters are more durable and can run for about 18 years. The warranty period can also help you gauge the life expectancy of a unit.
How Can I Enhance the Life of a Water Heater
It is important to buy a quality product that is made to last. Remember that not all water heaters are made equal. Some are made to last, while others are meant to be a quick fix.
Pick a company that’s known to make quality products and hire the services of an expert installation company to ensure it’s carefully installed and in the right location. Poor installation and choice of location are two of the major reasons why water heaters show faults.
Other than this, timely repairs and proper maintenance also play a vital role in enhancing the life expectancy of water heaters.
How to Know When to Replace a Water Heater?
These are some of the signs that indicate it is time to change your heater:
The Heater is Too Old
Nothing lasts forever, not even water heaters. They come with an expiration date that’s sadly not printed on the unit.
If you have been using the same water heater for about ten years then it’s time to consider a replacement even if it does not show signs of problems.
Also, not all water heaters make it that far. Some are not very durable and are made to last for only about six to seven years. A good option is to look at the manual and see the overall performance of the unit to understand if it needs to be replaced.
You can look at the serial number of the heater to understand how old it is. This can be very imported if you shifted to a new house and do not know much about the heater.
The serial number is usually printed on the upper half of the tank. It does not show the exact date but contains numbers you can decode. They read like this:
The letter indicates the month. A is for January, C is for March, and G is for July. The first two numbers indicate the year. It’s 2007, 2004, and 2006 in this case.
Remember that the life expectancy is calculated from the manufacturing date and not the date of purchase so pay special attention to the serial number.
It Makes Noise
Heaters are made to work silently but some may produce a faint sound. While a little sound is okay, heavy rumbling or sudden noise can be the indication of something seriously wrong.
This can be a risky situation and you should never continue to operate a unit that’s making a lot of noises.
The noise can be due to various reasons including the buildup of sediment on the bottom of your tank. It can make a rumbling sound when the burner ignites and is a good indication of the unit is at the end of its life.
While your heater can still continue to function, it will be less efficient and may use more energy due to an additional layer of sediment between the water and the flame. This extra use of energy can run up your monthly bill.
If you hear rumbling or loud noises, it might be time for a replacement.
The Water Is Not Properly Heated
The purpose of a heater is to provide you with warm water but water heaters begin to lose their efficiency over time. Some may take too long to warm water, some may not make the water warm enough, and some may use more energy.
All these issues indicate a serious problem that needs to be fixed quickly. While some of the issues may be minor, such as faulty pipes, some may require a complete replacement of the unit.
Call in a professional HVAC company if you notice any of these signs.
The Water Looks or Feels Different
If your water tank is made of a material that can corrode with time then you’re in trouble. Pipes and other parts of the heater can corrode, making water appear rusty.
It can be difficult to understand where the rust is coming from – the water heater or the pipes. Any part of the heater may catch rust including valves. This is why calling a professional is your only option.
Rusty water can be a serious problem and may lead to health issues as well. Do not neglect it.
You Find Leaks
Leaks can be due to poor fittings or a broken heater. While the former can be solved easily, the latter may require replacement.
There are many causes of leaks including poor installation and rust. Plus, sediments can also lead to leaks. While they can be filled with solutions, it’s best that you opt for a replacement since a leak indicates a weak structure.
Can I Opt for Repairs Instead?
This depends on the nature of the damage. For example, if one of the valves has malfunctioned, then removing the damaged valve may do the trick. However, in some cases, repairs may not be a wise choice.
For example, you may correct a leak by using epoxy but it may only add a few weeks to the life of the heater. You will eventually need a replacement since one leak can lead to another due to a weak structure.
It’s best to consult professionals as they can inspect the unit and suggest the right solution for you.
How Much Will It Cost to Replace a Water Heater?
The cost depends on a number of factors including the type and size of the heater and the location selected. A new, conventional unit can cost $500-$2500 including installation. Tankless heaters cost more as they are expensive. Expect to pay $1800-$4500 for such units.