‘Should I repair or replace my water heater?’
This is a dilemma that many homeowners contend with at some point. Expectedly, there are pros and cons to either option. But perhaps we should start by stressing the importance of selecting the best water heater for your home. Investing in a high-quality water heating system and regular maintenance is the most effective way to avoid frequent, costly repairs or replacements.
However, there comes a time when it’s in your best interest to replace your water heater rather than have it repaired. That’s especially if the device has seen better days or if its original electrical technology is incompatible with your property’s new power systems.
This article looks at the top five tell-tale signs that your water heater needs replacing.
Water Heater Too Old
This is unarguably the most compelling reason to replace your water heater. Water heaters, like all electrical systems, come with a specific lifespan.
Hot water heaters have a relatively limited life expectancy compared to many other homes electrical equipment. While they’re often designed to last up to 10 years, these devices aren’t meant to be used for that period. And much less for homes with larger households. On average, a water heater with a 10-year life expectancy will work optimally for seven years in a household with five occupants.
The best way to establish the lifespan of your water heater is to check the serial number appearing on the manufacturer’s sticker. This serial usually begins with a letter, with several numbers following the letter. The first two numbers after the first letter denoting the year the water heater was manufactured. You can determine the device’s age based on this reference.
However, it’s also essential to factor in the duration your water heater might have stayed in the stores between the dates of manufacture and installation.
Water Heater Not Heating
The primary reason you had a water heater installed in the first place is for the device to avail hot water for your shower, laundry, and dishwasher. Therefore, it’s only natural to consider a water heater replacement if the equipment fails to deliver on its core mandate.
The problem of the water heater not heating could result from several issues with the system. The most common ones are a misadjusted thermostat and a broken heating element. There’s also a chance that your reservoir tank could be disproportionately smaller than the required daily volume of hot water.
A misadjusted thermostat may not always necessitate a water heater replacement. But the converse is true for broken heating elements. That’s especially if there are more than a couple of parts that need replacement, and the overall cost of replacing them appears to match the cost of replacing the entire system.
Perhaps the biggest problem here is insufficient tank size. If the volume of hot water discharged by your water heater doesn’t meet your household’s daily requirement, then your only option would be to get a new system with a larger tank.
Water Heater Leaking
Leaks may be convenient to ignore. But that’s until they translate into unusually high water bills. And when the leaks emanate from a hot water system, there’s much more to worry about besides racking up excessive monthly bills. A leaking water heater poses grave risks to your family, belongings, and the entire property.
For starters, the leaking water could come into contact with exposed electrical fixtures and result in explosions. Worse yet, your beloved family members could get electrocuted due to using hot water that’s in direct contact with naked electrical wires. Besides, the leaks might compromise the structural integrity of your house if allowed to seep through the walls and foundations long enough.
Not to mention the resultant mold growth that could predispose your family to various respiratory infections. So, there’s more than enough reason to urgently address hot water heater leaks. Unfortunately, leaks usually indicate that the heater’s reservoir tank has reached the end of its life. Your best bet is to have the tank and all other system components replaced.
Water Heater Becoming Too Noisy
Water heaters aren’t meant to be silent. Due to their heavy workload, it’s not uncommon for this equipment to give off considerable noise. But this should be ordinary heater noise. If your water heater suddenly becomes noisy, there’s a decent chance the system needs thorough servicing or a total replacement.
There are different types of water heater noise depending on the specific issue with the appliance. Common ones include;
- Humming Sound – Some components have become loose, especially as a result of wear and tear
- Hammering or Knocking Noise – Although naturally caused by the action of water crashing too quickly into a water heater’s shutoff valves, a hammering noise may also indicate sediment buildup
- Screeching or Screaming Noise – Mostly suggests pressure imbalance caused by dysfunctional valves
- Tapping Noise – Also typically caused by dysfunctional or malfunctioning valves.
It’s prudent to call your local water heater technician as soon as you pick up any of the above noises. Be sure to supply them with information on when the problem began and it’s most intense.
Water Heater Giving Off Discolored Water
Has your water heater recently begun pouring discolored water with a reddish-brown tint?
If yes, that’s the clearest indication of rust buildup in the equipment’s internal components, particularly the tank. And it’s another tell-tale sign of a water heating system well past its sell-by date. You may also taste the water to establish that it contains a rusty flavor. This helps eliminate any other potential causes of discoloration, such as dead rodents and bugs.
These animals especially love water heaters due to the warmth these equipment emit. It’s important to note that rust in a water heater’s internal components renders the entire system dysfunctional. You wouldn’t be comfortable showering with water that leaves you looking dirtier than when you stepped into the bathtub. And neither would you want to wash your white fabrics with rusty water unless you’re seeking to dye them permanently.
Therefore, prioritize replacing your water heater as soon as you pick up clues of rust.
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Numerous reasons could cause you to replace your water heater rather than repair it. The key takeaway here is always to engage the services of a water heater technician for all your repair and replacement needs. Never attempt to replace your water heater system unless you’re duly trained and qualified.