There aren’t always surefire ways to tell that your water heater’s time is up, but it’s best to not wait until you’re jumping in an ice cold shower at 6 a.m. to find out. Listed below are a few tips to help you decide whether you should fix or replace your unit.
Aside from a giant puddle of water on the floor, here are a few signs that may signal something is wrong:
- Water does not heat as rapidly as it once did. Keep in mind that if this occurs as the weather begins to get colder, you may simply need to turn up the heat settings on the tank.
- Leaking or moisture around the base. If the tank itself is leaking or is difficult to repair, generally the whole unit will have to be replaced.
- Rust colored hot water is a sign that the internal cylinder of the unit is corroded. This generally means that the unit is not salvageable. Also check for the appearance of excessive corrosion on the body of the heater and at the heater’s plumbing connections.
- The age of the system. A gas water heater has a life expectancy of 8-12 years, while an electric system is slightly higher at 10-15 years. Today’s water heaters have better insulation and are more efficient “out of the box”, so you may notice a dramatic difference in lower fuel and/or electric costs by replacing it.
Is it Fixable?
There are some minor issues that are worth repairing. Some leaks around the plumbing connections can be repaired by patching or welding, but be sure to periodically check on the unit afterwards. Also, there are a number of parts that are designed to be replaceable, such as heating elements, thermostats, anode rods, drains and various valves. However, because of the material some water heaters are made from, the replacement parts may corrode more quickly than other plumbing fixtures. As there is a risk that a replacement part may still leak, a homeowner should always consider the possibility of having to replace the entire water heater, even when the repair seems simple and straightforward and the problem appeared to be solved.
Consider an Upgrade
If you do need a new water heater, now is a great time to upgrade your system. For electric water heating, heat pump water heaters have come of age. They will save considerable energy and also have a side benefit of dehumidifying the space they’re in. So if you run a dehumidifier in your basement, you can save twice by upgrading to a heat pump water heater! If you have a gas water heater, you can save on energy bills and significantly increase the safety of your home by investing in a sealed combustion or ‘power-vented’ heater. This modern type of heater completely separates the burned exhaust gasses from your home’s air. This is a significant upgrade in safety over an old-style gas water heater, which can allow carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and other exhaust to enter your family’s breathing space. A plumbing or remodeling professional can help determine if it’s best to repair or replace the unit. If you do have to replace your water heater, it’s important to research your options carefully, as heating water accounts for about 20% of the average home’s energy spending. Efficiency ratings, new technologies, your budget, your household’s water demand, as well as the type of system you currently have, are all factors that should be taken into account when making the decision. The number of options on today’s market can be overwhelming, so if you’re unsure, your design build renovation expert can help you make the right choice for your home’s energy needs.