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When To Replace Water Heater, or When to Repair

Last time we took a look at what’s involved in plumbing inspections, and a part of that was looking at water heaters. As mentioned, water heaters are a critical component in the flow of water in your home, but they don’t last forever. This time on the ACE Home Services blog, we wanted to take a beat and give our readers the info to know when to replace water heaters, the signs it is time to retire a unit, or when a repair will do. Let’s get into it shall we?


When to Replace Water Heater – Signs It Is Time

Age of Unit

How old is your water heater? Did it come with the house? Many water heaters can last 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance. Even if there were no problems with it, age and use will catch up to the water heater and it’ll need replacing. If your unit is closing in on the 20 year mark, it’s time to replace it and avoid a total failure.

Bills Going Up

If you’re calling up a repair service (like ACE Home Services) more than twice a year because your water heater is acting up, it is time to replace the water heater entirely. Replacing piece by piece will get you another few months of hot water, but the stress on the system from the busted parts will quickly cascade into other problems. 

Also, keep an eye on your heating bill! Water heaters typically use the most of your heating and if that is rising that can be an early indicator that your water heater isn’t working as efficiently as it should be.

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Low Volume

Another tell tale sign that it’s time to replace your water heater is if you aren’t getting the amount of hot water you are used to. Are people taking warm (or cold!) showers in the morning, when it used to last? If your water heater isn’t able to heat and keep the same volume of water, it is certainly time to look at replacement.

Red Water

Turn on your hot water taps and the water comes out looking red? This is a clear sign that the inside of your water heater is beginning to rust out. Time to retire the old gal.

When Can It Keep Going

So, if none of those are the problems, what else could be the culprit? There are a few common problems that could use a simple fix.

Sizzling or Hissing Noises

If you are hearing strange noises coming from your water heater, don’t get too worried. These noises are often caused by sediment collecting in the tank. To fix this, drain the tank until the water clears and then clean the elements inside a container filled with white vinegar. Scrub off the collected scale and you should be back in business. Follow all necessary safety precautions first!

Leaking Water Heater

There are a few likely culprits of a leaky water heater. The pressure-relief valve and the water supply pipes. If either of these are leaking it’s not the end of the water heater’s life! Simply replace the pressure-relief valve, and tighten them water supply fittings! If the leak persists after the fittings are tightened, replace them.

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You can do a few things to be proactive about your water heater health too! While we don’t have the space for it this time, we’ll give you a brief run down of water heater maintenance best practices!

plumber inspecting and fixing leaky water heater


Water Heater Maintenance

  • Drain the water heater about twice a year! This will get rid of collected sediment, preventing corrosion and increasing your water heater’s efficiency.
  • Manage the temperature setting on your water heater. Put it to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the potential for overheating and damaging the tank.
  • Test your pressure-relief valve. Lift the valves handle and allow it to snap back to place. There should be a burst of water into the overflow drain, if not get a new valve!

If your water heater checks any of the boxes we talked about, give us a call and see how ACE Home Services can get you the best water heater for your needs, whether it be gas, electric, tankless, or stainless! We got you covered. If you suspect your unit just needs a repair, we can do that too and our professional plumbers will give you the exact info you need to make the best choice about your water heater health. We’ll see you next time here on the ACE Home Services blog!


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