When to Repair or Replace Your Water HeaterIf you're having water heater problems, you may be wondering whether it's worth the money to repair it, or to replace it. There's no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but the age of your unit may help simplify your decision.
The average life expectancy of a water heater is 11 to 14 years. Factors like hard water, poor maintenance, improper installation, heavy demand and an extreme climate may shorten that life significantly.
For water heaters 10 years old or older...
If you are starting to have problems with your water heater and it is 10 years or older, unless your problem is as simple as a tripped breaker, faulty thermostat or blown fuse, you might want to consider replacing it. If the system is older than 10 years old, there could be a possibility that it is not as efficient as it used to be and there could be some wear-and-tear, and in some cases corrosion. Older systems are also more susceptible to leaks. A major leak could cause water damage in your home, and even a small leak could contribute to mold growth and other indoor air quality issues.
For water heaters less than 10 years old...
If you are having issues with your water heater that is less than 10 years old, a plumbing professional can help you decide whether it's more cost effective to repair or replace it, but here are a few questions and answers that might influence your choice:
- How well has your unit been maintained? If you know for a fact that your water heater has been regularly inspected, drained to prevent sediment buildup and repaired promptly when needed, it may be worthwhile to keep it.
- Does it meet your needs? If you frequently run out of hot water, the water heater you have may not be the right size for your home. You may want to consider upgrading to a model with a larger capacity or installing multiple water heaters.
- Is your water heater wasting energy? The R-value of your water heater indicates how insulated it is. If your tank is hot to the touch, it may need added exterior insulation, or you may want to replace it with a more insulated system. In homes that use 41 gallons of hot water or less daily, it may even be worthwhile to switch to a tankless system that heats water on demand.