When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

Many people ask, 'How long will my water heaters last?' While your water heater may go at any time there are some general rules when regards to your knowing when it will go or how long it will last. In this post, we will discuss some of the ways to tell when you should change your water heater or maybe just need a repair.

How Long Does a Water Heater Last?

As a general rule of thumb, most water heaters typically last between 10 to 15 years.  Just how long yours lasts, depends on a few different factors.  First and foremost is what kind of water heater is it?  While getting a cheaper water heater is tempting when looking to replace yours, but it may not always be the best decision. Many cheaper water heaters are made with inferior parts and simply not made to last as long.

Flushing your water heater once per year is something you can do to help the water heater last longer. Many people neglect flushing their water heaters which causes them to work less efficiently and reduces the lifespan.  So depending on how the water heater was maintained could actually have a lot to do with how long yours lasts.

Depending on the material your water heater is made from can also play a variable as to how long your water heater will last. Those made with a fiberglass tank typically last longer and some high end models may actually come with a lifetime warranty.  Most water heaters typically come with a 5 to 6 year warranty, while some of the higher quality ones come with warranties from 10 to 12 years.

If your tank is damaged, they typically can not be repaired regardless of the materials they're made from. 

Why Tanks Fail

There are primarily two reasons that cause a water heater to fail. First is over pressurization. Over pressurization is when the pounds per square inch exceed the specifications of the unit.  This can be caused by either one of two causes, excessive heating or having too much pressure at the inlet. To avoid either of these, it's best to keep the water temperature at or below 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The second cause of water tank failure is sediment buildup in the tank. This could be from chemicals or other contaminants in the water that eventually cause corrosion or rust inside the tank, which ultimately may lead to rust. Once a leak occurs it tends to be a self feeding problem that grows over time.

Another factor in determining water heater lifespan is whether it is gas or electric.  Electric heaters typically last slightly longer, but not always. 

Replacing Your Water Heater

When replacing your water heater, it is common for people to stick with the same type of water heater (gas or electric) because the replacement labor and parts costs are cheaper. When shopping for a new water heater, It is best to compare all expenses to determine whether you are getting the best deal or not.

So How Do You Know When To Replace a Water Heater?

Like most other appliances, there are typically two choices, either repair or replace. If your water heater is broken, replacement is often necessary. If it is not working, it may not work any longer. If it is leaking, it may be fixable depending on where the leak is coming from.  Leaks coming from the tank of bottom, are not fixable and will need to be replaced.  Leaks coming from above can typically be repaired by fixing the pipes. It is always best to troubleshoot when dealing with yours.

A water heater that does not generate enough hot water may be fixable by replacing the thermostat or other parts. Replacing some of the components may actually be cheaper then replacing the whole unit.  If your tank is less than five years old it may be cheaper to replace the components, rather than getting the whole thing fixed.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Water Heater?

The cost to install water heater depend on whether the type is gas or electric. There are typically two costs to be considered when comparing water heater cost, the unit itself and labor. The labor costs are fairly standard and you may end up paying more in an emergency situation due to having to pay the plumber overtime for off hours.

According to HomeAdvisor.com, most homeowners spend anywhere between $767 – $1,446 for a water heater installation with the average being $1,104. These figures are based on over 21,000 respondents with a national average. 

Click here for more information on replacing your water heater.