Most people never think about their water heater until that unpleasant day when you discover that you have no hot water. At that point, you become obsessed with getting the issue repaired or replacing the entire unit. But there are many other indications that you should begin budgeting and planning for a new water heater. You just need to know the signs and a few tips, so that you can avoid that day of a cold shower or no hot water to clean your dishes.
Timing Is Important
There are a few time-critical things to consider when you are thinking about your traditional tank-style water heater. The first thing that you need to know is that the industry standard life expectancy for a water heater is 10 to 15 years. So if your water heater is over a decade old, then the end is near. And the second thing that you need to think about is when was the last time that you drained the tank, or did any of the regular maintenance that a water heater needs. The tank should be drained each year to remove the silt and mineral deposits inside the tank. This helps to prevent the tank from rusting. If you have never done any maintenance on the tank, then be happy if it lasted for 10 years and quickly buy a new one. If you have completed the annual maintenance, then 12 to 15 years is a good life for a water heater.
Issues With The Hot Water
The hot water itself could be telling you that it is time for a new water heater. If your hot water is rusty looking, has a brown tint to it, or smells bad, then you should be shopping for a new water heater. The rusty water or brown color is because the inside of the tank is breaking down and will soon fail. A bad smell, or even a metallic smell, is also an indication that the inside of the tank has begun to rust or break down and is now contaminating your hot water. And the final sign that you might notice is that your once hot water is now only war water. This is a good indication that the heating element in your water heater is getting old and beginning to fail. Soon, you will have no hot or warm water, so think about replacement options quickly.
Visual Signs Of Old Age
Just like everything in this world, old age has many visual indications on the outside of your water heater. The most obvious is going to be rust on the outside of the tank. In some cases, the rust is through the entire thickness of the tank, and you can see a small amount of water seeping through the rust. Not only is this a sign that the water heater needs to be replaced, but it can also be somewhat dangerous as the tank could fail at any time and flood the area with hot water. Leaks from the connections, such as the supply line and the drain valve, can also indicate that the water heater is about to fail. And finally, odd sounds such as cracks or pops from inside the water heater could be from excessive mineral build-up on the heating element. When this occurs, cleaning is sometimes an option, but you will need to have a professional plumber look at the unit to determine if it is fixable.
Planning Ahead Can Save You Big Money
If you suspect that your water heater is going to need to be replaced soon, you can save yourself a great deal of money by investing a little bit of your time. Getting a few estimates from professional plumbers will let you know what the going rate is for both labor and the water heater itself. You might also be surprised to find a very honest plumber who explains that your water heater does not need to be replaced, but simply needs a repair. Professional plumbers can often replace heating elements or valves and repair small leaks in the connections or pipes.
It is always best to replace or repair your water heater before it completely fails and dumps 40 or more gallons of hot water on the floor. The cost of that clean-up is also something that you will want to keep in mind as you decide if you are ready to proactively replace your old water heater.