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Water heaters are subject to constant daily wear and tear, so yours will inevitably need to be replaced. You might wonder, though, how often this needs to be done. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the age, condition, and type of water heater you use. In some cases, it’s possible to repair a water heater rather than replace it. When to replace a water heater thus becomes an issue of usability — if repairs cannot restore your water heater to its full function, it’s likely time for a replacement. Read on for more information on determining when to replace a water heater.

Water Heater Lifespan

Like any other appliance, a water heater will typically be subject to a lifespan that determines the time it’s likely to last. The estimated average lifespan of a water heater is between eight to ten years, though a unit may last much longer or shorter than that, depending on factors such as the following:

  • How often is the unit serviced
  • Where the unit is located
  • The quality of its installation
  • The quality of the water

If your water heater is close to the ten-year age mark — or past it — it may be time to start shopping for a replacement. It’s worth noting that investing in regular maintenance may extend a water heater’s lifespan up to 12 years or longer.

Care and Maintenance History

The care and maintenance of your water heater is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining how long it will last. Units that don’t receive regular maintenance are far more likely to need replacement sooner rather than later. The following routine maintenance can substantially extend your water heater’s lifespan:

  • Draining the water heater completely
  • Flushing out the unit with cold water
  • Cleaning unit to remove any residue

This maintenance should be provided by a professional at least once a year. If you live in an area with hard water — as much of New Orleans does — you should have this done every six months.

Signs of Wear

Many signs may arise, indicating when to replace the water heater or invest in repairs. Whether a complete replacement is necessary, it’s important to enlist help from a professional if your water heater is performing unusually. This may include a failure to heat water consistently, water with a strange taste or color, and abnormal noises from the unit. If you’ve experienced any of these phenomena, it’s time to determine whether a repair may be possible or a replacement will be necessary.

When Repairs Are Possible

A qualified water heater professional will know when to replace a water heater, but they’ll also know when it’s better to attempt a repair. Luckily, repairs can often resolve simple problems — primarily if your water heater has been regularly maintained throughout its lifetime. Repairs are often possible if a single part causes the problem in question. Some of the parts most commonly responsible for water heater issues include:

  • Burner assemblies
  • Heating elements
  • Thermostats
  • Motors
  • Thermocouples
  • Igniters
  • Valves

These parts can easily be replaced by professional water heater repair personnel. If issues persist even after replacing parts, this may signify that a replacement is overdue.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater

When to replace your water heater will be determined by many different factors, but even units that have been carefully serviced and maintained will eventually reach their limit. This is inevitable for appliances subject to intense wear and tear, like water heaters. Consider the following signs: it may be time to invest in a replacement unit for your home or business.

Rusty Water or Heater Inlet Valve

Most water heaters are made from steel parts because steel is one of the most robust materials available. Unfortunately, even a material as strong as steel is vulnerable to corrosion and rust. Rust can quickly eat through the steel in a water heater unit, but it can be challenging to determine whether the corrosion is coming from pipes or the unit itself. A qualified water heater repair professional can investigate the problem and determine the source.

Water Heater Noise

Sometimes, you might notice a knocking noise from your water heater unit. This can become more exaggerated as the heater ages, but it shouldn’t be ignored. This is most commonly caused by a buildup of sediment that settles on the tank’s floor. It can gradually harden, which causes the rumbling or knocking noise you might hear. If left unaddressed, this will cause a leak — or in a worst-case scenario — a tank explosion.

Water Heater Leaking

Water heater leaks are a pesky problem that often indicates a much bigger issue. Luckily, most water heaters are installed inside a pan to prevent flooring damage, but that doesn’t mean a leak should be ignored. On the contrary, leaks often indicate a broken part or metal expansion within the tank. This expansion happens naturally throughout the heating cycle, which can eventually cause fractures in the tank’s material.

Water Heater Not Heating

A lack of hot water is one of the most obvious signs that your water heater needs replacement. As soon as your unit stops heating water, a few potential causes should be investigated. First, you should check the thermostat to ensure that it does not need adjustment, and if that’s not the culprit, enlist help from a water heater professional. A broken heating element often causes this problem, but it’s also a potential indicator that your unit needs replacement.

Water Heater Repairs, Replacement, and Maintenance

Taking care of your water heater is one of the best ways to invest in efficiency and longevity. Rooter Man serves commercial and residential clients throughout New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana. We can help you with your plumbing, water heater, and drain cleaning needs. Call us at (504) 464-0145 or contact us online.


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