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How to Know When Your Water Heater Needs Replacing

Your water heater will usually show signs that it needs to be replaced. Here is what to watch for so you can avoid a potential flood when your water heater needs replacing.

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Signs Your Water Heater Might Be Tanking

The water heater is something most homeowners take for granted. After all, the vast majority of the time, they turn on the hot water spigot and hot water flows from it. In fact, the only time most homeowners think about their water heaters is when no hot water is coming out of that spigot.

This type of “out of sight, out of mind” take on the water heater could ultimately cost you big-time down the road, should things go awry. Consider for a moment how much water is held in your home’s water heater, and then picture all that water escaping the tank and running over the floor of your basement. Worse yet – the water inlet valve on the tank remains open, and this adds more and more water to the growing flood.

Had you noticed your water heater was starting to go bad, you could have had it replaced for a few hundred dollars. But instead, you’re left with thousands of dollars in damage and you still need to pay to have the tank replaced.

Don’t risk this type of nightmare. Learn how to tell if your water heater needs to be replaced before this situation happens. Here are some signs that will let you know your tank is ready to be replaced.

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Standard Water Heater Distress Signs

Age: If you have a standard tank-style water heater, then the first thing you want to check is its age. If your tank is older than ten years, then you may have to check the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker located near the top of the tank. The first two numbers of the serial stand for the year it was made.

Word to the wise: water heaters older than ten years should be replaced.

No Hot Water: If your showers are starting to turn colder faster than usual or you have no hot water at all, then your tank may need to be replaced. Over time, sediment can accumulate inside the water tank and it can form a barrier between the water and the burner element, resulting in the water not being adequately heated.

Sediment can also cause your water heater to make odd noises, like rumbling or banging sounds. If you hear such noises, they could eventually lead to a crack or leak being formed.

Rusty Water: If you turn the hot water on and rusty water comes out, then the inside of your tank could be rusted. Try turning on your cold water to check. If no rusty water comes from your cold water spigot, then the rusty water problem is in your water heater. There’s no way to fix this except for replacing the tank.

Leaking: If you notice water pooling around your water heater, it may have a small fracture that is allowing water to leak out when it expands after being heated. If you don’t see any leaks coming from any of the fittings, then this is a serious problem that requires an immediate replacement.

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Tankless Water Heater Distress Signs

Age: Most tankless water heaters are built to last between 10 and 15 years. Beyond that, they start losing their efficiency and become more expensive to run. It would be less expensive to replace the unit with a new one than try and keep an old one working.

Poor Efficiency: One of the benefits of tankless water heaters is that they are more energy-efficient than the standard tank type. But, if you notice your water heater isn’t performing as well as it once did, then that’s a sign that it is declining.

Increased Repairs: When a lot of demand is placed on a tankless water heater, its lifespan will be shorter than one that only receives a moderate amount of demand. One of the first signs that your tankless heater might be starting to wear down is an increase in repairs.

The typical tankless water heater needs maintenance or repairs every two years on average, so if you’re finding yourself making repairs multiple times per year, then it’s likely time to replace it.

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Protect Your Home – Replace Your Failing Water Heater

If you notice one or more of the above signs in your water heater, then you should have it replaced as soon as possible. Your home is your largest investment, and a failing water heater can cause an immense amount of damage, including structural damage. Having a new water heater professionally installed will not only save you a lot of money, but you’ll also live more comfortably and with much less stress.

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Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.

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