Replacing Your Hot Water Heater: How to Tell When It’s Time

We depend on our water heater for so many different purposes each and every day that it’s easy to take it for granted – until it stops working, at least. There are few things better in life than a steamy shower, clean clothes, and sparkling dishes. Because this all-important appliance lasts for ten or fifteen years, it’s hard to tell when you need a new one or you just need a repair.

Here’s how to tell if it’s time for a replacement:

– Age. If you’re losing function and the unit is approaching the expected lifespan, there’s probably nothing more you can do to keep it going. You’ve probably noticed that you’ve had to repair it more and more often. After a certain point, it makes more sense financially to invest in a new one rather than continuing to repair a failing one.

– Color. If you turn on the hot faucet and the resulting stream is rusty or tinted rather than clear, the problem may not be in the pipes. Run the cold water only and see if you get the same results.

-Texture. You may need a replacement if the liquid comes out muddy or sandy when you don’t have the cold water on. This may be a sign of sediment buildup in your tank. Sometimes you can just drain this build-up, but often, you’ll need to replace your old unit with a new water heater.

– Taste. Turn the faucet on hot, and if you get a metallic taste or smell that isn’t standard in your area, it means that the water heater is breaking down. What you are tasting is grit and flakes that are making their way into your pipes.

– Temperature. If you’ve been enduring lukewarm showers or if it’s not getting quite hot enough to wash your dishes properly, this is a tell-tale sign that a new machine is in order. It’s possible that the heating element is burning out. Try to adjust the thermostat to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s already there, you may be in trouble.

– Noise. If you hear rattling, cracking, or popping that you’ve never heard before, something is probably wrong. This could be a sign of mineral buildup or an adverse interaction between the heating components.

– Leaking. As with all things home-related, leaks are bad. If you see the formation of puddles around the unit, it’s usually a sign that the inner tank has reached the end of its life and can no longer function properly. Be sure and act on this sign immediately. Small leaks and puddles could turn into a huge disaster if the entire tank breaks open and floods your home.

A water heater is an essential part of modern living. While they have impressively long lifespans that often outlive the occupant’s time in the home, they do give out eventually. Use these signs to help you know when it’s time to get a replacement.