Needing a hot water heater replacement does not need to be as stressful situation. Many times it will go every smoothly, though there can be times when it is needed do to a large water leak causing damage to ones home. Usually, if a water heater is getting close to needing to be replaced, it will give a homeowner some tell-tale signs that it is close to this time. Rarely, will a water heater have a large leak and cause a mess without any prior knowledge. That is why it is important to do a visual inspection of ones water heating equipment once or twice a year to in order to help see some of the usual signs that it is beginning to wear out.
A fortunate fact is that many of the warn signs that a hot water heater can give that it is not operating well, is that a part might need to be replaced and not that it is close to its life expectancy. Or example, the drain valve on the bottom of the water storage tank may not be closing tightly and causing a water leak. This is an easy and inexpensive repair for a professional, and not a sign that the entire water heater will need replaced. Since most water heaters are tank style, there are many different ways it can leak some water. A water leak certainly must be attended too and not put off, but the usual reasons for a leak can be repaired easily. We know though, that when a homeowner sees water leaking from a storage tank, the first response is to believe it will need to be replaced. That is only natural.
Depending on the type of water heater one has, will depend on how long it is designed to last. For most of our writing, we discuss this from the perspective of a traditional or conventional tank style water heater, since these are most commonly found in homes still. With that in mind, they will last 10 to 12 or more years. Some will last even longer with proper care. Some will last less than this if no care and with poor water quality in the home.
The difficult thing for a homeowner to know sometimes is how old ones water heater is, when one is not the original owner of the home. One may have lived in the home for five years and know that the home is 20 years old, but have no idea if the current water heater is the original one. If the water heater is not too old, it may have the date printed on a sticker on the side of the water tank. If not, copy down what the serial number is. Each manufacturer uses a system to incorporate the age of the heater in the number. This website has a chart that can be used to determine its age. One of the first things a plumbing repair company will do is assess if the cost of the repair will warrant being done if the age of the equipment is older. There will come a time when it makes more sense to install a new water heater than repair an older one.
Possible Water Heater Replacement Signs
We will look more at water heater maintenance steps here, in order to help get the most out of ones water heating equipment, and to help prevent an unneeded replacement. However, here are some of the common signs that a replacement may be needed soon.
Probably one of the worst signs is when there is rusty colored water coming from ones hot water faucets. Though this isn’t a certainty that the water heater will need replaced, for it could be coming from the water supply and not from inside the water heater. The delicate balance is knowing when the water storage tank becomes too weak and will soon rust through and cause a large leak. Rust will eventually happen, even with being proactive with changing ones anode rods and making sure ones water quality is good. Because of the natural chemical reactions that take place inside a hot water heater storage tank, rust will happen.
If rusty water is coming out of both hot and cold water faucets, this may show that the discoloration may not be coming from inside the water storage tank. There can be times when the water company is doing work or construction and sediment can get into the water supply. If one is connected to a city or rural water supple, we advise contacting the water company first too see what they might be aware of.
Water leaks from may be a sign of needing a replacement water heater, or that there is a valve or pipe that is not sealing correctly. In addition to the example above about a drain valve leak, water could be leaking from a cold water pipe connection, or even from the T&P valve. If one is not comfortable checking all the places that need to be examined let a professional know. Damp around the heater could also just be from condensation too. The signs of water is not always a bad sign, so don’t worry.
There can be times when a water heater will make really strange sounds like something inside is banging on the sides of the storage tank, or loud popping noises. We have more information on this here, but typically it a sign that there is too sediment buildup within the water storage tank, and not that the water heater is about to quit running. Again, it might sound really bad but it is not a difficult maintenance step to drain and/or flush the storage tank to get rid of the sediment inside. The sediment accumulation is a nature occurrence.
It is important to be on the look out for these signs, or any other signs that are not the norm for ones water heater and let a professional plumber know about them. The longer one waits, the larger the issue will usually become. Needed plumbing repairs will not repair themselves.
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