Taking a shower is soothing and comforting until the hot water suddenly isn’t. Prevent cold showers with our guide to preventing a crisis with your water heater.
Water heater life span and maintenance
With regular maintenance, a traditional tank water heater lasts 10 or more years and a tankless system lasts 20. Without regular maintenance, life spans can be considerably shorter.
Both tank heaters and tankless systems need annual checkups. Tank heaters need sediment drained annually, particularly if you have hard water filled with calcium and magnesium. Installing a water treatment system helps extend the life of your water heater as well as washing machines and faucets.
Tankless systems also need annual maintenance to clean mineral buildup from the heat exchanger.
Warning signs with your hot water heater
Here are the signs of a struggling water heater.
- Your hot water runs out faster than it used to. This means that hard water sediment has built up in the tank, diminishing the amount of space available for storing hot water.
- You notice hot water pressure is diminished. This means the flow from the water heater is narrowed because of mineral buildup from hard water.
- Your water turns cloudy or brown. This means you have mineral buildup or rust in the heater.
- You hear bumping and rumbling noises in the tank. These sounds are caused by sediment buildup churning internally.
- The tank leaks into the pan in which it sits.
Even without these signs, if the tank has reached the estimated lifespan in years, especially where it hasn’t been maintained, it’s probably best to replace it. Newer models operate more efficiently, saving energy costs.
Repair or replace
If the heater is not approaching the end of its lifespan and has been maintained, you may be able to repair it or replace parts such as the burner, heating element and valves. One part, the temperature and pressure relief valve, is critical and must work properly to avoid an explosion. Older units and/or ones not maintained could need replacing.
Hire it or D-I-Y?
Unless you have trained plumbing skills, this is a job for a professional. Because the heater uses either gas or electricity to heat the water, you need a professional to install one. You also do not want to have a leak. Not using a professional installer could also void the heater’s warranty.
Cost to replace
On average, the cost to replace a tank water heater is around $1,500, depending on the size and quality of the replacement. Replacing a tankless system typically runs around $3,500.
Related – Water Heaters: Choosing the Best System