How to Know When Is the Right Time to Replace Your Water Heater

How to Know When Is the Right Time to Replace Your Water Heater
March 14, 2013 Lorelie
replace your water heater

Replace Your Water Heater

As with all appliances, water heater units will eventually break down, but how can you determine whether you only have to repair your unit or replace it?  Well, there are actually many factors – it depends on the age of your water heater, its condition, and your available budget that you are willing to shell out.

Water heater units are typically appliances that are taken for granted for the first couple of years or so until there comes a time that you will experience that first cold shower even if it is turned on just like the usual or you see a huge puddle of water in the basement floor.  That is the time you would have to think and decide on what to do next – Do I repair it or replace it?  If you have a traditional tank-type water heater which has been used for 10 years or so, replacing it is the only sensible way.  This is due to the fact that modern models right now are actually 20% more efficient in heating up water and at the same time it can even help you save up to $800 in energy costs in the overall lifespan of the water heater unit.  However, if your water heater unit is only a couple of years old, it may be wiser to just have it repaired.

Below are some more tips on how to decide whether you should repair or replace your water heater.

How to determine the possible problem/s with your water heater unit

Due to the fact that water heaters only have a few moving parts, then it is obvious that only a few things can go wrong:

  • The thermostat breaks down.
  • The valve sticks.
  • The heating element or burner fails.
  • The circuit breaker of the electric water heater trips.
  • The pilot light on the gas water heater unit flickers out.

Repairing or replacing any of the parts mentioned above is affordable.  You can hire a plumber to accomplish the task for a fee of $150 up to $300.  However, if your water heater tank is leaking or if it is over 10 years old, then it is more practical to get a new one instead.

If you have no other choice but to replace it

As the time goes by, sediments and minerals present in the water tend to react with the steel, which results to the corrosion of the water heater tank.  Keep in mind that when your water heater tank has a leak, you have no choice but to replace it immediately.

Looking at the bright side, the latest models of water heaters nowadays are obviously more energy-efficient than their older versions.  Manufacturers inject some foam insulation in between the tank and its outermost shell, which results in a higher degree of heat retention.  Also, new glass liners make water heater tanks less susceptible to the harmful effects of corrosion.

If you decide to get a traditional tank-type water heater unit, you would shell out about $500 up to $1,500.  A high-efficiency model that bears the Energy Star logo can help you save up to 20% in your energy bills.  Should you go for the tankless, heat pump and solar water heaters, then you are going to have even bigger savings and they also are eligible for federal tax credits.

Hidden Costs in Water Heater Replacement

Storage Tank Water HeatersIf you are going to replace your traditional tank-type water heater unit, it is actually easier said than done.  You also need to consider building codes which require you to upgrade the following in your area such as: the supply pipes, the size or type of the venting system, the water heater mount, and the drain pain below the water heater.  Before you go through all the trouble of replacing your tank-type water heater, ask an experienced installer or plumber to state out all of the possible expenses that you would have to spend on.

If in case you know how to do plumbing tasks, you may be able to install everything yourself.  A lot of manufacturers these days provide detailed instructions on their manuals, and you just have to check the local codes of your building.

Avoid the Hassle of Repairing or Replacing your Water Heater with these Maintenance Tips

A typical water heater unit can last to about 8 to 12 years or even more, depending on the quality of the water in your home and how diligent you are in following a routine maintenance check.

Below are ways on how to properly maintain and take good care of your water heater:

  1. Since new water heater units are already tweaked for high energy efficiency, you should insulate old water heater units with the use of a fiberglass jacket to improve efficiency, just keep in mind to avoid contact with the flue.
  2. If you are going out of town, remember to adjust the thermostat on the gas water heaters to “vacation” setting, which means it will maintain the pilot light without heating up the water.
  3. Every 3 to 5 years, check the sacrificial anode rod by loosening up the hex head screw and take it out.  If 6 inches or more of the core steel wire is exposed, then quickly replace the rod which costs around $20.
  4. Once a year, flush out the water heater unit in order to get rid of the debris and sediments that collect at the tank bottom.  Simply hook up a garden hose to drain the valve and then wait until the water is clear.  This method also makes the water heater unit operate noiselessly.
  5. Once a year, check if the temperature pressure relief valve is working okay by immediately discharging it for a good 2 to 3 times.  After that, check to see if there are any leaks present from the valve.
  6. Remember to always adjust the thermostat to 120 degrees to prevent the danger of scalding yourself or others.
  7. Keep in mind to maintain at least 2 feet of clearance around the unit unless it is otherwise specified by the manual.

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