Avoid Costly Home Water Heater Repairs with Basic Home Maintenance Routines

avoid costly water heater repairs featured - Avoid Costly Home Water Heater Repairs with Basic Home Maintenance Routines

Taking a few minutes to make some minor, but critical, house checks every season can save you plenty!

Your home is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make. That’s why keeping it in good, working condition – inside and out — is critical to ensuring your family’s quality of life and, when and if the time comes to sell, allows you to sell for potentially a better price. But the biggest reason to be proactive with home repairs by fixing the problem when it’s just starting to show, is that, if ignored, a small issue can easily morph into a huge expense in very little real time.

Just some due diligence performed on a routine basis, such as twice a year or before the change of each season, can provide you with invaluable peace of mind and help you avoid any substantial, unplanned expenses. And the older your home, the more important are these seasonal spot checks.

Here is one of several places in your home you’ll certainly want to stay on top of and a snapshot of the potential expense if you don’t:

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Here’s one we hardly ever think about – until there’s a flood.

Traditional tank storage water heaters last between 10-15 years. It’s important to know the age. Once a year it’s a good idea to have the anode rod inspected and replaced it if needed; it’s there to reduce corrosion of the tank, which is the main reason water heaters fail. To ensure optimal performance, you should flush the tank and get it inspected by a plumbing professional. If your water heater has reached its life expectancy, replace it immediately, if possible. It’s less costly and nowhere near as much stress as cleaning up after a burst heater and having to replace it anyway. An electric water heater can cost $400-$3,000 or more for complete installation of a conventional storage-tank model.

Tankless water heaters are designed in a box configuration to be mounted on a wall instead of occupying valuable floor space required by its traditional cylindrical counterparts. Tankless water heaters are quite popular with homeowners who want to save on their energy bill, floor space and replacement costs over time. Most tankless water heaters produced today are high-efficiency, direct-vent, powervent units. And make no mistake: they use electricity!

Also referred to as “on demand” water heaters, the tankless heats water only as needed at a rate of 2-5 gallons per minute, according to the US Department of Energy, energy.gov. Gas-fired tankless water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, however, even the largest gas-fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. For example, a tankless water heater can be stretched to its limit if someone is taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time. Busy households can benefit from two or more tankless water heaters, connected to meet simultaneous demands for hot water as well as for appliances that use a lot of water in the home.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your tankless water heater is crucial because lime, mineral buildup or scale caused by hard water can destroy them. Since they are more expensive than traditional water heaters – about twice the price depending on the flow rate needed – and more difficult to install due to special venting requirements and a higher BTU rating that may require larger gas lines, tankless water heaters must be flushed regularly, drained and filters should be cleaned every month.

Average Cost of Water Heater Replacements

The good news is, with proper maintenance, tankless water heaters will typically last longer and have lower operating and energy costs than traditional models, with a life expectancy of more than 20 years. Easily replaceable parts can also extend their life by many more years. In contrast, storage water heaters last 10-15 years. When shopping for a tankless water heater, it’s best to educate yourself because there are many different units available. A central, whole-house, gas tankless water heater can cost from $800-$3,000 or more, without installation.


This is the third of a five-part Freedom Mortgage Blog Series titled Avoid Costly Home Repairs. Catch up with FMC’s first and second blog entries, Roof Maintenance and Foundation Maintenance and don’t forget to check back for the fourth in the home maintenance tips series, HVAC System Maintenance, coming soon!

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