When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

Every system in your home is important, but there are a few that are extra critical, and the thought of a failure sends chills down the spine of most homeowners. Your furnace or boiler is certainly at the top of the list, your roof, and then, not much further down, is your water heater. You can’t live without it, plus you might have heard the horror stories of water heaters giving out at night and spewing water until they’re discovered. That’s nobody’s definition of fun.

The good news is that being proactive can help you avoid unnecessary water damage and expense, plus keep you in the driver’s seat as you choose when and how to replace your water heater.

5 signs that your water heater is failing

First, it’s critical to know your water heater’s age. Most units last 6-10 years depending on the type of water heater you have, the quality of the installation, and the properties of your water itself (tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years, depending on all the factors we just listed). If your heater is getting older, it becomes all the more important to have routine maintenance checks completed.

Also, watch out for these telltale signs of trouble:

  • No hot water (no need to be a plumber to identify that problem!)
  • Your hot water has a reddish brown tinge to it right from the tap (a sign that there is internal corrosion)
  • Damp rust is forming on the outside of the unit
  • Water pooling underneath (even just a little)
  • You hear odd knocking sounds when it runs

If you’re seeing any of these problems, it’s time to plan a replacement. And soon.

Should you replace your water heater before it fails?

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to squeeze every last bit of value out of your system and components before shelling out your hard-earned cash for a replacement. But when you consider the inconvenience of losing hot water, plus the potential water damage, it suddenly begs the question of whether or not a preemptive replacement makes sense.

Here are the main benefits of getting ahead of the issue:

  • You choose when and how the replacement takes place – no surprises. Plus, you can plan accordingly and find another place to take a hot shower.
  • You can take your time choosing a plumbing professional to handle the job. No scrambling at the last minute with crossed fingers, hoping you find a good one.
  • You can protect yourself from potential flooding. If corrosion sets in, often because of skipped routine maintenance, you can have a real catastrophe on your hands.
  • You will likely save money on energy bills. Newer water heaters are much more efficient than older models, making this a good opportunity to shave down utility bills. In fact, switching to a tankless water heater can make a lot of sense too.

Pro tip!

Routine maintenance goes a long way. For water heaters in particular, you need to replace the sacrificial anode rod. This relatively small component plays an integral role in the health and longevity of your heater, drawing corrosive compounds to itself to prevent the internal tank surfaces from rusting. Thus the “sacrificial” part of its name: it literally corrodes so your tank won’t. But, if you don’t replace that rod every couple of years it will have died in vain. Nobody wants that, right?

What’s the takeaway?

If you have an older water heater, pay especially close attention to your maintenance schedule, and know the warning signs to watch for. Catching issues early makes all the difference. If your hot water heater is showing its age, you may want to bite the bullet and invest in a replacement now. It isn’t an exciting project, but this is your one and only chance to be in the driver’s seat, dictate when it’s replaced, make alternate plans so your life isn’t impacted, and take your time finding a professional plumber. There’s a lot of value in that!

If you have any more questions about your South Jersey plumbing project, contact us at Accurate Plumbing. We can help guide you through your options, whether you need maintenance, a hot water heater repair, or a full replacement.

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