Is it time to get a new water heater for your home? There are many factors to consider when you’re faced with this question, but there are generally two main considerations that can help you decide:
- First, is your water heater malfunctioning or damaged? And if so, can those damages be repaired?
- Second, how old is your water heater? A unit that’s only a couple of years old won’t need to be replaced unless it’s been seriously damaged. But if your water heater is getting old, then malfunctions may be signaling that a replacement is necessary.
In this short guide, we’ll tell you the key things you should know if you’re debating whether to buy a new water heater.
Which Damages Can Be Fixed, and Which Can’t?
If your water heater starts malfunctioning, there’s no need to panic yet. There are some damages that can be fixed by replacing just one part of your heater. Here are a few common malfunctions and when they’re repairable versus when they’re telling you that your water heater has run its course:
Leaking is one of the most common problems you may see in your water heater. Figuring out where the leak is coming from is the key to determining how serious your problem is.
If the leak stems from a faulty inlet pipe, outlet pipe, or drain valve in your water heater, then the problem is easily fixable with a replacement part.
However, if it’s leaking due to corrosion of the water heater itself, it cannot be repaired and will need to be replaced. So, find the source of the leak to determine what action you should take.
Discolored water coming from your taps could be a sign that the tank has corroded and is leaking rust into the water supply. If this is the case, then you will need to replace your water heater, as it’s damaged beyond repair.
But first, you should check if the discoloration is coming from your water heater or from the water supply itself. To do this, turn on solely the cold water tap and see if the discoloration continues. If so, the water has been contaminated before it enters your home, and you’ll need to call your utility company or local water supplier to address the problem.
No Hot Water
A lack of hot water production can also be caused by a variety of reasons. It could be that the gas line has been accidentally turned off or a component that controls the pilot light has gone bad. Both these problems are easy to remedy by getting the gas turned back on or replacing a part or two.
But if these factors aren’t the cause and your water heater is getting old, it may just be that the heater itself is failing and requires replacement.
If you are intermittently receiving hot water, one other cause may be the size of your water heater tank. If your household is consistently using more hot water than the tank’s capacity to produce, you will be left with periods of cold water. In this situation, you may want to consider replacing your tank with one of a larger size or switching over to a tankless water heater system.
How Long Do Water Heaters Last?
In general, a well-maintained water heater should last around 8–12 years. If you are having issues with your water heater, and it is 10+ years old, the recommendation is to replace it; however, if it is not leaking, it likely can be repaired. Malfunctions are likely to be minor unless the heater has been damaged by an outside source.
So, because most water heater malfunctions could have multiple causes, you should always get a water heater specialist to check out any problems, especially if you’re unsure what’s causing them. It may surprise you to learn that your issue can be resolved with a quick and inexpensive solution, and you don’t need to get a new water heater at all. But if your current heater has been irreparably damaged, or if it is nearing its 10-year mark and begins having consistent issues, then it’s most likely at the end of its life and will need to be replaced.