As with other appliances in your home, your water heater will eventually break down to the point of being irreparable. Ideally, you should consider replacing it before it stops working altogether. Unfortunately, too many homeowners don’t heed that warning until something more serious than a cold shower happens . . . like a leak that causes costly water damage throughout the house.
How do I know if it’s time to replace My Water Heater?
Depending on the design, how well it was installed, preventative maintenance that’s been performed, and the quality of your water, the average lifespan of most water heaters is 8 to 12 years. You can quickly determine if the time has come to replace your water heater by keeping the following factors in mind:
- Age of the appliance – based on the average lifespan above, it would a better idea to replace rather than try to repair your water heater if it’s approaching the end of its life. This is especially true if repairs are becoming increasingly more costly.
- Frequency of repairs and increasing costs – another way to determine if it’s time to replace your water heater is by performing a cost-benefit analysis. This is often called the 50% rule. If the cost to repair your water heater exceeds 50% of the total replacement cost, then you should consider replacing it. With plenty of options available, you can easily find one that suits your budget.
- Increased utility (electric of gas) bills – water heaters account for 12% to 14% of a person’s monthly utility bills. If you’re turning up the temperature in the shower to get a comfortable water temperature, the water heater has become less energy-efficient. This causes it to work longer and harder and drives, causing your utility higher to become increasingly higher.
Although you may think it’s unnecessary to upgrade to a newer model, it’s even more frustrating to keep spending money on an appliance that you know is going to break down again in the near future. Thus, it makes better financial sense to get a new one that would work efficiently and cut costs on repairs. With time, new technology enhances better efficiently and lowers utility costs which helps you save more.
What are the Warning Signs of a Water Heater that needs to be replaced?
Water heaters will tell you in a number of ways when they have reached the end of their lifetimes. A little due diligence on your behalf will enable you to spot the warning signs of a water heater that’s about to fail. Any one of the following signs or a combination of them is a pretty strong clue that it’s time to replace the appliance:
- Corrosion and rust – keep an eye out for a build-up of corrosion and rust. The specific areas to inspect are around the inlet and outlet connections, the pressure relief valve, and the temperature gauge.
- Discolored water coming out of the appliance – this is a clear indicator of a tank that is rusting internally. Eventually, your water heater is going to spring a major leak and possibly cause more damage to your home. Wet spots can lead to growth of mildew and mold that can become another issue later on.
- Pooling around the water heater – if you see any moisture, the tank may be fractured and is leaking internally. As the water is heating up, so is the metal casing of the tank. This causes it to expand and crack, thereby causing water to leak out.
- Strange noises – if you’re hearing what sounds like a herd of stampeding animals or a thunderstorm coming from your water heater closet, something is up with the appliance. Once it starts making those kinds of noises, leaking is inevitable. Chances are it’s time to replace it.
- Water is cold or lukewarm at best – cranking the water faucet up in the shower but not feeling the water get any warmer is a telltale sign that your water heater is no longer repairable and needs to be replaced.
How much will it cost to replace My Water Heater?
You may be tempted to perform a DIY water heater replacement but this is a job that is best left to professionals. We understand that budgets are tight, but installing a water heater improperly will cost considerably more in the long run. The cost to install a standard tank style water heater ranges between $800 and $1,500 including installation. Tankless units run between $1,000 and $3,000. The unit by itself could cost up to $2,000 or more and the plumber who installs it will charge anywhere from $45 to $150 per hour.