When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Your hot water heater may be much more important to you than you ever imagined.  Maybe you’ve never been without one. You wake up in the morning, jump in the shower, and your day is suddenly off to a great start. Just like everything, though, hot water heaters just don’t last forever. They get old. You’ve probably noticed the signs. Here are just a few of the things you might have noticed.


Solar water heater plumbing overview

Image via Flickr by RJL20

With regular care and maintenance, your hot water heater can last up to ten years. Gas units can last up to eight years. You can determine the age of your model by looking at the serial number. Manufacturers often include the month and year the model was built in the first four digits of the serial number. Another sign of age is rust and corrosion around the water inlet or pressure relief valve on the heater or a brown tinge to your water. This is a sign that the system is rusting out and is likely in need of replacement.


When the hot water heater was new, you got lots of hot water. As the heater ages, you may have a lukewarm shower or the hot water just doesn’t last as long. Some causes could be a problem with the thermostat, a broken heating element, or a tank that’s too small. It could be a sign that you should replace your heater.


You may have started hearing strange rumbling noises from that general direction. The noise can be a sign of sediment buildup, which means inefficiency and higher gas or electricity bills. When you perform your yearly maintenance, you should flush your heater, which will help you avoid a buildup and ensure that your heater lasts longer. If you’ve been performing your yearly maintenance and you’re still hearing noises from your heater, it could be a sign that there is something more serious happening. Your heater could be in need of repair or replacement.


You may have noticed puddles around the tank. It could be an issue with the fittings or connections, which can be fixed easily by a licensed plumber. With age, wear and tear, as well as sediment buildup, the metal of your tank expands, eventually fractures, and leaks when in use.

If you’ve noticed signs of failure, particularly if your hot water heater is ten years old or older, hire a licensed plumber to take a look at your heater. Depending on what the plumber recommends, you’ll need to get your heater repaired or replaced before you experience more serious problems. Since you’ve already noticed the leaking, lukewarm or brownish water, and the noises, replacement is probably your best option.

Due to the cost of parts and labor to continually fix your aging hot water heater, it will quickly become clear that it’s smarter and more cost effective to buy a new hot water heater. Besides the fact that you won’t have to repair your water heater every few months, you’ll be saving on your electrical and water bills too.


Posted in: Personal Finance

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