When your shower water turns to ice and the clothes coming out of your washing machine are freezing, you know that something is wrong with your water heater. Water heaters keep your water hot enough to allow for important daily tasks like showering, doing dishes, and washing laundry.
If you’re wondering when to replace your water heater, this article is designed to help you figure it out.
How Do I Know When to Replace a Water Heater?
There are two ways of knowing when your water heater is on its last legs. You can tell by checking the age of your water heater or by noticing problems occurring with the heater. If your water heater is close to, or older than, ten years old — you need a water heater replacement.
Additionally, there are signs that can indicate that something is wrong with your water heater. Signs you need a new water heater include:
- Leaks from the heater
- Rusty water output
- Cold water comes out when your turn on the hot water tap
- Loud noises when the water is heating
These are all symptoms that your water heater might be broken. Not every issue with your water heater will require a total replacement, though. Sometimes, certain parts can be repaired or replaced, including:
- The expansion tank
- The anode rod
- The pressure relief valve
- The thermostat
- The water heater element
When you are experiencing issues, a professional plumber can inspect your heater. They will check for signs that you need a new water heater or tell you if there are certain parts that can be repaired.
Should I Replace My Water Heater Before It Fails?
If a water heater can be repaired, is it worth the cost to replace it altogether? Depending on a variety of factors, the answer is yes…and no.
No matter how responsible you are when keeping up with your water heater maintenance, or the number of tips and tricks you read on Reddit about water heater repairs, your heater will, eventually, need to be replaced.
The system is constantly producing high-temperature water, which can be corrosive on any material. After a certain number of years, it will no longer be repairable, and you will need a new unit if you want to continue to have hot water in your home.
There are different models of water heaters, and the lifespans of these heaters vary. It’s important to consider what kind of heater you currently own when determining whether you should replace your hot water heater.
How Long Does a Gas Water Heater Last?
If you currently have a gas water heater, you are in the majority. Standard models of this type of heater are among the most common in U.S. households, and they are also the most affordable.
They don’t last as long as others, with the average lifespan being between eight and twelve years, but they are not overly expensive to replace, and they can be highly functional during their lifespan if they are well-maintained.
Do Electric Water Heaters Last a Long Time?
Electric hot water heaters can work for many years. This option has a longer shelf-life than the gas heater if you take very good care of it. Just like most appliances, preventative maintenance is key to achieving these results.
When you care for it properly, your electric heater can be in good working order for up to fifteen years. If you are in the market for a replacement hot water heater, an electric model is a solid choice.
Can a Hot Water Heater Last Twenty Years?
You might have heard that if you take extra good care of your heater, it will far surpass its expected lifespan. If you believe this, you might keep putting off your hot water heater replacement one more year in the hopes of reaching this twenty-year mark.
There is a silver lining to all of this. Most water heaters will not function longer than twelve years, but if you are in the market to replace your heater, you might want to try a tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters can last twenty years before being replaced.
If you want a water heater with a longer lifespan, this is a great option to explore in place of more traditional models. However, these heaters are more expensive to buy than gas or electric heaters. The upside is they are cheaper to operate.
So the question remains — do you replace your water heater? Determining how old it is and how many repairs it has already undergone will be the best way to figure out the answer.