Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater?

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abmay Most of us don’t think about our water heater often. But if your unit is getting old or has been acting up lately, you may be wondering when it’s time to purchase a replacement. If your water heater is still in pretty good shape, you may be able to keep it going with occasional repairs. However, if your water heater has had multiple issues over a short period of time, a replacement may be your best option.

How Long Does A Hot Water Heater Last?

Conventional water heaters usually last 6-12 years, but several factors can affect their lifespan.

The maximum lifespan of a hot water heater depends on the type of unit:

  • Gas Water Heaters: Gas water heaters are the traditional model and have the shortest life span. Generally, gas water heaters should be replaced every ten years. If the water heater has had annual maintenance, it can last up to twelve years.
  • Electric Water Heaters: An electric water heater can last up to 15 years.
  • Tankless Water Heaters: Operating at the highest efficiency possible, a tankless water heater can last up to 20 years.

How to Find the Age of Your Water Heater

If you’re thinking it may be time to replace your water heater, it is important to know what type you have and how old it is. If you don’t know how old your water heater is, you can typically locate the manufacturing date on the back of the unit (located near the serial number). You can also go to the calculator on Rheem’s website, enter the serial number from your water heater and it will let you know the age. label with serial number and manufacturing date on a water heater

Deciding Whether to Repair or Replace Your Water Heater

Regular maintenance can extend the life of a water heater, but many people forget about their unit until something breaks. If your water heater is fairly new, it’s usually worth repairing if possible. But if your unit is nearing or past its life expectancy, it may be more cost effective to go ahead and purchase a new one.

When to Repair Your Water Heater

Certain water heater problems are easily solved by a professional. Here are some situations where we often recommend repairing your water heater instead of replacing it:
  • The pilot light is on and your gas water heater goes out
  • The circuit breaker trips for an electrical water heater
  • The water heater’s thermostat is broken
  • A valve is stuck and wont turn
  • The unit’s burners or heating element fails

Signs That You May Need a Water Heater Replacement

  • KNOCKING OR RUMBLING NOISES: Impurities in hard water, also known as sediment, build up on the bottom of the tank over time. Sediment is a hard, rock-like formation that bangs around when the tank is working to heat up, causing knocking or rumbling noises. Sediment buildup not only hurts your unit in the long term, but it also forces your water heater to work harder each time it heats up, raising your energy bills.
  • WATER LEAKING FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK: If you see water leaking from the bottom of the tank, a buildup of sediment may have worn down your tank’s lining, eventually creating small holes and cracks on the exterior. Unfortunately, there is no way to repair the interior lining, which means it is time to replace the water heater.
  • RUSTY OR CLOUDY WATER: Water discoloration is a clear message that something is wrong. If you notice rust in your faucet water, cloudy water, or a metallic odor, you should have your unit inspected by a plumber as soon as possible. If we discover corrosion inside the tank, you may need to replace your water heater.

How to Extend the Life of Your Water Heater

You can extend the life of your water heater with routine maintenance every one to two years. This includes flushing your water heater to remove sediment buildup and inspecting the entire system for issues that could cause future breakdowns or damage to the unit. All this can be done yourself, but we recommend calling a professional if you aren’t comfortable handling it on your own. At the end of the day, a licensed plumber is the best way to ensure your water heater is well-maintained and thoroughly inspected.

A.B. May is Here to Help

When you call A.B. May, you can expect the best in customer service:
  • We will ask the right questions and listen to your concerns.
  • We will take your home’s unique situation into account and explain all of your options so you can make the best decision for your home.
  • Upfront pricing keeps you from being surprised once the work is done.
  • We respect your home, wear shoe covers, and always clean up our workspace.
We hope that these tips help you decipher whether you need a water heater repair or replacement. For all your plumbing needs, call ​913-370-4898 to schedule an appointment.