Time to Replace Your Hot Water Heater?
Your hot water heater is not built to last forever. Ideally, a relatively new or recently-installed hot water heater will last somewhere between 15 and 20 years; older hot water heaters come with much shorter lifespans, so checking the date on your unit will give you some idea as to how much longer you can expect it to run.
It is also helpful to know some of the common signs that you may need to replace your unit—and also the lesser problems that can be resolved without a unit replacement.
One of the most common water heater problems is simply not getting enough hot water. Before you panic and think your unit is fizzling out, go and check the thermostat setting. Most of the time, getting more hot water is as easy as cranking up the thermostat a few degrees. You should keep it set around 120 or so—and probably no higher than 140, at the most.
If there is just no hot water coming from the tank whatsoever, the culprit is likely a broken heating element. This is an easy part to replace, and is certainly much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. Contact a skilled plumber and you can have hot water again in no time.
Another common problem is the hot water heater that bangs, knocks, creaks, or otherwise sounds noisy. Noise issues usually stem from a buildup of sediment. Flushing the tank can solve this problem. If flushing the tank doesn’t put an end to the noise, the problem could—once again—be a heating element that’s fizzling out.
When It’s Time to Replace the Unit
These lesser problems aside, there are some other issues that may prompt you to consider replacing the water heater altogether:
- Surplus water usage will cause the unit’s lifespan to decrease. If your family grows, then, you can anticipate needing to replace the hot water heater a little earlier than you may have first thought.
- Living somewhere with mineral-rich “hard” water will also cause you to need a water heater replacement sooner rather than later.
- Leaking. There is no easy fix or quick plug for a leaky water heater. If there’s standing water anywhere near your unit, you probably need a new one—and it’s important to call a plumbing professional as soon as possible!
Keep these diagnostic guidelines in mind the next time your hot water heater seems to be acting up!