Water heaters-like car batteries, offensive tackles in football, and a lighting crew in a theater—are generally not thought of until a problem arises. Homeowners will eventually confront this issue and it is important to know how to spot a faulty water heater and what to do if that occurs.

If you turn on your shower and are hit with a rush of icy cold water or the water has a foul smell to it, that typically points to an issue with your water heater.

Now, the question is: are you in line for a water heater repair or full-on replacement?

If you are dealing with a conventional storage-tank water heater coming near the end of its 10-year life, replacement is the way to go.

Accordingly, water heater replacement can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the unit. This is especially true of the newer water heater units that manufacturers sell these days since they provide greater efficiency levels.

What Other Signs Point to Faulty Water Heaters?

If your water heater needs repair, how would you know?  There are other signs that will key you into your decision regarding replacement or repair. Some people have water heaters only a couple of years old that begin acting up and there are ways to determine whether you should go with a water heater replacement or water heater repair.

Some of the characteristic elements of a faulty water heater are:

  • Hot water not working
    • Insufficient hot water
    • Odorous smelling water
    • Unusual noises coming from unit
    • Leaks from the water heater
    • Pilot light issues

Also, if you notice that you must adjust your shower dial more to get the same temperature of water, then you might have an issue as well. This means that your water heater has less energy efficiency. Due to the lack of efficiency, the heater now works in overdrive to deliver your hot water, further driving up your energy bills. Nobody wants that!

For most people, their water heater takes a large chunk of their total energy bill, so it is wise not to let this inefficiency fester. Next, you need to determine whether the heater is just old, or you need to go ahead and undergo a water heater repair.

Common Water Heater Repair Issues

Water heaters are not complicated mechanically. If you use a conventional tank water heater, then cold water will flow into the tank and receive heat from an electrical agent or gas burner.

The temperature is held in balance by a thermostat that keeps it between 120 to 140 degrees.
Then, pressure develops in the tank with the rising water heat.  By turning on the tap, pressure releases hot water out of the faucet.

Given how simple the process is, only a handful of issues can trigger a repair:

  • A valve sticks to something
  • Your thermostat breaks
  • Burner or heating material fails
  • The circuit breaker for your electric heater trips
  • The pilot light on the gas water heater flickers out

However, if your tank is more than 10 years old or if it is having an issue with leaks then you may need to consider water heater replacement.

If you ever have any of these issues, the best thing to do is call your local plumber and have them investigate it for you. Even though a plumber can provide regular maintenance to your water heater, unplanned repairs occasionally happen, which requires that you hire an expert.

As such, trying to fix the issue by yourself can further complicate things with the water heater. You don’t want to make a simple fix for a plumber turn into a more complicated situation.

Choosing the Right Water Heater Replacement

To tank or not to tank? That is the question if you decide to replace your water heater.

If you determine that water heater replacement is the best option moving forward, then the next step is determining whether you would prefer a tank versus a tankless water heater. Tank storage is the most common choice for residents; however, more and more people are deciding to use tankless storage.

First, tankless water models allow you more room as they are smaller, and a tankless water product will not ever deplete of hot water. Additionally, a tankless water heater can cut your energy bill in half compared to a standard water heater. A 50 percent reduction in energy costs can go a long way in saving money for a family.

The reason you save so much money is that there is a flow monitor that registers once you activate the hot water.  Once you turn off the hot water, the water heater stops running, which will in turn save your energy bill. 

One downside to tankless water heaters is that they have run on a limited flow rate, which translates to not being able to engage in several different activities that involve hot water.

Tank water heaters generally are cheaper to install and for the most part carry less up-front costs. 

They typically store up to 80 gallons of hot water. However, once a tank water heater runs out, you must wait for your water heater to fill up again. Also, your tank can leak as well.

The decision between a tank or tankless water heater is up to you. Furthermore, contemporary water heaters tend to consume less energy than older water heaters. Water heaters today have foam insulation between the tank and its outer shell, which helps retain heat better.

To re-iterate, tanks are more cost-friendly upfront, while tankless water heaters generally perform more efficiently.

Other Costs Associated with Water Heater Replacement

It is important to recognize that setting up a water heater should be done by a professional. Also, there are additional local building codes that require the following:

  • Water heater mount
  • Type or size of vent system
  • Drain pan under your heater
  • Supply pipes

As previously mentioned, having a tankless water heater is more costly for the upfront installation, which is why so many people prefer the tank water heater replacement.

A good plumber will possess a wealth of knowledge surrounding local building codes, so you will not have to worry too much about the specifics going in. Just know that there are many specifications that are involved with installation and having a skilled plumber to navigate through the various issues can come in handy.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Water Heater

Not everyone is going to go out and replace their water heater, however, it is paramount that you consistently outsource maintenance from a local plumber for your water heater repair. The plumber should flush the tank yearly to remove any sediment. By flushing the tank, you will remove a lot of the debris inside and your heater will work more effectively, which will save you money. We flush the water heaters we install for our Diamond Club members as part of their free annual inspection each year.

It is also wise to have a plumber check your anode rod every three years. By keeping up with these tasks, you can effectively save money and keep your equipment functioning properly.

Regardless of whether you need to repair or replace your water heater, Steve’s Plumbing can help you with all your plumbing needs. Steve’s Plumbing is a family-owned and operated company out of Lynwood, Washington that has offered quality plumbing solutions for more than two decades and they are more than capable of helping remedy any water heater issues that might arise.