We often forget about our water heaters until they start leaking or the hot water in the shower runs out. The good news is that maintaining them is simple and can extend their lifespan.
Get a plumber to backwash your tank by draining the water and cleaning out the sediment. Sediment build-up is a common cause of problems. Have your plumber inspect your anode rod and replace it as necessary. The anode rod helps protect your water heater from rusting, which is a major cause of leaks. Finally, make sure the valves are working well. Many professionals recommend you get your water heater serviced once a year.
Even with regular maintenance, you will need to replace your water heater sooner or later. Here’s what you need to know!
When should you replace a water heater?
Plumbing professionals recommend you replace water heaters every 10 to 15 years. This reduces the chance of leaks causing water damage and can save you from needing to replace the unit fast. Manufacturer stickers and date codes in the serial number can tell your water heater’s age. Other signs you should replace your water heater include …
- Temperature. Water that takes a long time to get hot or temperature changes as you run the tap can be signs your tank needs repair or replacement.
- Water quality. Hot water that is cloudy or rusty or tastes metallic often indicates problems you should address.
- Odd noises. If you hear banging and rumbling, have a professional inspect your unit. Odd noises may mean your heater is working less efficiently, which can increase energy costs.
- Rust on the outside. Consider replacing your water heater when you see rust on the outside of the tank. Water heaters usually rust from the inside out, which means the problem is often bigger than it looks.
- Leaks. Address leaks right away. Some leaks are caused by problems with valves that can be repaired. When the tank itself is leaking, chances are good you’ll need to replace it.
Should you get a tankless water heater?
Tankless or "on-demand" water heaters make hot water just when you need it. This makes them more efficient than conventional water heaters, especially if you use less than 40 gallons of hot water a day. Tankless units sometimes have trouble keeping up with a high demand for hot water and they often have higher upfront costs. But they can save you money on energy bills in the long run, and they have a life expectancy of 20 years or more.
How much does a new water heater cost?
Replacing a water heater can cost between $800 and $2,800 for parts and installation, according to Angie’s List. The cost varies depending on the size of the tank, whether the water heater uses electricity or gas, and whether you choose a conventional or a tankless unit. Conventional water heaters are generally less expensive to buy and easier to install than tankless units.