Your water heater is one of the hardest working appliances in your home, running constantly to ensure that your family has the hot water they need for comfortable living. This diligent worker may not always be top of mind, until it stops. When your shower goes from steamy to freezing, you know something is off. But how do you know when it’s time to replace it altogether? Read on for signs that your water heater needs to be replaced, and what you can do to increase the lifespan of your unit.
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How Many Years Does a Water Heater Last?
The average life expectancy is about 8 – 12 years, although tankless unit can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance. If your unit is around this age or older, it may be time for a replacement.
How to Tell if You Need a New Water Heater
There are a few easy ways to tell if you need a new tank. These are the most common signs that it’s time for a replacement:
- When Your Water Heater Makes Noise: If you notice your unit making noises, it’s a signal that something is wrong. Any banging, popping, groaning, or bubbling noises should not be ignored.
- When Your Hot Water Heater is Leaking: If you notice your tank leaking from the bottom, it’s time to act. Rust can eat away at the bottom of the unit, leading to potentially catastrophic damage in the event of a major leak. If your tank is leaking from the top or somewhere in the middle, it’s possible that over time pressure has built up in the unit, causing small ruptures at the joints.
- When Your Water Heater is Not Working: If your water temperature is dropping or fluctuating without adjusting the thermostat on your unit, it may be an early sign of failure. Likewise, if you notice a reduced hot water flow, there may be sediment building up in the unit, preventing it from properly functioning.
- When Your Water is Discoloured: If you notice cloudy, odorous, or rust-coloured water, your water heater may be at fault. If this issue only persists when you use hot water rather than cold, it’s time to check your unit.
- When It’s Getting Older: This may seem obvious, but if your unit is in the 8 – 12 year range, it may be time for a replacement.
Should I Replace My Unit Before it Stops Working?
We are frequently asked if it’s best to replace a tank before it breaks down. For your own comfort and peace of mind, it’s best to replace the unit (or at least have it inspected) as soon as you see the warning signs. A broken hot water heater is more than just an inconvenience, it will affect your daily life until it is replaced. For this reason, it’s best to take action before you are left in the cold.
Repairing vs. Replacing
As with any home appliance, it’s possible that you can repair a failing hot water heater and avoid replacing the entire unit for the time being. A professional plumber will be able to evaluate any issues with your unit, and can give you advice on when it’s time to find a replacement. They will also be able to give you an estimated cost to repair vs. replace your tank, making your decision easier.