There’s a reason why the water heater market is expected to reach $33 billion by 2026 — people need hot water. What was once a luxury is now being viewed more and more as a necessity across the globe.
However, the main reason why the market is expected to grow is through the replacement of old heating infrastructures with new ones. While some water heater repair problems can be easy to temporarily fix, many units are becoming obsolete with old age.
If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably wondering whether you should repair your water heater or replace it with a new one. That’s why we organized this article to help you decide what should stay and what should go. Let’s get started!
Water Heater Repair: Common Problems
Before you think about a new water heater replacement, you should see if someone can repair your current model. Sometimes all a water heater needs is a simple fix that you can handle by yourself.
In this section, we’ve included six popular problems that affect electric and gas models, as well as their solutions. However, before you begin there are some safety cautions you should follow.
First, if your water heater is an electric model, then you should turn off the circuit breaker in your home.
For gas models, you should turn off the pilot light by turning the control setting to “pilot”. Then, after you turn off the power supply (not before!) you can shut off the water supply to your heater. Now, you’re ready to inspect your device.
1. The Water From the Heater Smells Bad
If your water heater isn’t warm enough or has been turned off for a long time, then bacteria can fester in the tank. This leaves an unpleasant, raw-sewage smell in your water. While not usually harmful, this smell and taste can be annoying.
Typically, you will need professional help to identify the source of the bacteria. However, a common starting point is the anode rod. When this component becomes rusted it can leave a rotten egg smell in the water.
You can fix this by partially draining your tank. Then, after covering the thread, remove the old anode rod and discard it. Once you install a new one the rotten egg smell will likely go away.
2. The Water From the Heater is Visibly Brown
Brown water is a clear sign of rust in your water supply. Most of the time this problem is due to rusted pipes leading to your water heater. Typically, the simplest solution is to install a water filtration system in your home.
This will remove most of the harmful material from your water. If you have a filtration system and still notice tan particles, then the problem may lie within the heater itself.
Some elements in an electric water heater can calcify because of a collection of calcium and magnesium. If you believe this is the problem, then you can drain the tank and remove the internal elements.
Then, scrub them with a mixture of vinegar and water. If the corrosion still doesn’t come off, then you will need to replace the parts.
3. There’s No Hot Water Available
Nothing is worse than a cold shower — especially in the dead of winter! If you find that there’s no hot water available, then you should check your water heater’s energy source.
If you own a gas-powered model, then you should make sure that the thermostat, pilot light, and gas control valve are all functioning properly. For electric models, you should check the internal heating elements and the thermostat that controls them.
4. The Water Gets Too Hot
We’ve all likely used a shower at one point that had two temperatures: scolding hot and cold. These types of models usually use up all the hot water way too quickly. Unfortunately, identifying the exact problem can be difficult.
Because a variety of systems could be causing it. First, check the temperature settings and make sure they aren’t too high. If you own an electric model, then the internal heating elements may be causing the problem.
Other problems include a dip tube that is overly damaged and also sediment lodged in the tank. You will likely need to replace the dip tube or flush the system to deal with the sediment.
5. The Water Heater Is Making Strange Noises
If you hear a low rumbling sound coming from your water heater, then this is the sound of water boiling over. The most common cause of this problem is excessive amounts of sediment.
When this material builds up at the bottom of your tank it can cause it to overheat. If you believe this is the problem, then consult our guide on dealing with these rumblings. Sometimes water heaters can also make a hissing noise.
This problem can indicate a leak that’s dripping onto the heat source. Identify where the leak is coming from and replace the corresponding part.
6. Water Is Leaking Around the Base of the Heater
You may think that if your water heater is leaking, then you will need to replace it. However, this depends on where exactly the leak lies. First, check the temperature and pressure relief valve.
If you find it dripping, then you can replace that specific part. You should also check the individual plumbing connections leading to the heater.
If there’s a leak in these parts, then you may be able to repair them by sealing or replacing the pipes. Unfortunately, many other leaks in the tank will likely require a whole new model to properly heat your water.
What You Should Consider Before Replacing a Hot Water Heater
If the repairs on your current water heater are costly, then you may be wondering whether or not you should replace it.
Some models may be worth preserving. Others might just be a cash hole that never improves. So, how do you tell the difference? Consider the following factors and make an informed decision about your own water heater.
1. The Age of the Water Heater
The biggest factor in replacing a water heater is the age of the model. If your product is over ten years old, then it may not be worth trying to repair it. But exactly how long does the average water heater last?
The answer depends on a variety of factors, like the brand and water quality in your area. Generally, we recommend changing your water heater every eleven to twenty years.
However, it’s important to realize that this life expectancy depends on how well you perform maintenance on your water heater.
You can improve the lifespan of your model by regularly flushing it every one to three years. You should also pay attention to the heating elements. When your water heater begins exhibiting these symptoms, you should think about changing the parts.
2. The Efficiency of the Water Heater
Have you noticed unusually high energy bills every month? The cause may be due to the efficiency of your water heater. Older devices require more energy to provide the same amount of heat as newer models.
The result is a lot of wasted money every month. You can check your model’s efficiency by paying attention to the R-value on the storage tank.
This is a measure of how well-insulated your tank is. Models with an R-value of less than 24 should probably be replaced.
3. The Number of People Using Your Water Heater
It’s important to pay attention to how your household has changed since you first installed your water heater. If you had children or added roommates, then your household is likely to use a lot more water for things like showering, dishes, laundry, and toilet flushing.
If you fall into this category, then you may want to consider upgrading to a larger tank. Similarly, you may have fewer people living with you after roommates or children move out.
In this case, you may be wasting money on heating water you don’t need. If you fall into this category, then you should consider getting a smaller model.
4. The Potential Cost of Repairs
The cost of repairs is usually the best indicator of whether or not you should replace your water heater. We recommend contacting a professional and getting an estimate of how much repairs will cost.
If the cost of fixing your model is 50% or more than a replacement model, then you're better off installing a new one.
However, you should also consider how much longer you plan on using it. We also recommend checking your warranty on the device to see if you qualify for free replacement parts.
What Type of Water Heater Replacement Should You Get?
If you’ve decided to replace your water heater, then we highly recommend that you go with a renewable option. As more people continue using hot water throughout the world, these environmentally friendly solutions will be important.
They can also help you save some money on energy bills. There are a variety of renewable energy sources you can tap into to power your device. One of the more popular methods is solar energy.
These heaters usually use flat plates or evacuated tubes to collect energy from sunlight. Usually, these models will also include a conventional water heater energy source to make up the difference on cloudy, overcast days.
If your location is right, then you can also take advantage of geothermal energy to power your water heater. This method digs deeply into the earth to harness the steam from geothermal wells.
If your location isn’t right, then you can also take advantage of widely available ground source heat pumps. These models are ideal for preheating your water before it’s used in the water heater.
If you’re heating an industrial building or facility, then you also might consider using wooden biomass as your heat source instead of traditional fossil fuels.
Should You Install a Water Heater on Your Own?
Individuals who require a new water heater have an important decision to make: install the new model yourself or hire a professional. If you're confident in your engineering and/or electrical wiring skills, then you can try installing the new model on your own.
However, there are some things you should keep in mind. First, there is the danger consideration. If you’re working with a gas model, then there is a chance you could blow yourself up or cause a fire.
This is a worst-case scenario, but it’s something newcomers need to be aware of. Electric models aren’t much safer either, since the possibility of electrocution is present. If you aren’t confident in your ability or knowledge when working with dangerous systems, then don’t proceed!
There’s also the time cost. If you don’t install water heaters on a day-to-day basis, then you likely will need a lot of trial and error to get your new model up and running.
This means hours and hours of painstaking, back-breaking work. So, ask yourself: is saving a couple of hundred bucks in installation costs worth it? If all of this sounds unappealing, then we highly recommend going with a professional installation company you trust.
Need Help With Your Water Heater Repair or Replacement? Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing
We hope this article helped you decide whether you need a water heater repair or replacement. If you still aren’t sure which one is for you, then don’t panic! Just call in a professional like Mr. Rooter Plumbing.
If you live in Peterborough or most parts of Canada, then one of our 250 locations can help you out. We’ll come to your home and help you decide if repairing or replacing is the best option.
If you do need to replace the heater, then we can also assist with the installation. While we’re there we can also advise you on any other residential or commercial plumbing job you need doing — no matter how big. So, what are you waiting for? Schedule an appointment with Mr. Rooter Plumbing today!