How to Tell If It's Time for a Water Heater Replacement
Have you noticed a small pool of water forming around the outside of your hot water heater?
If so, you shouldn't ignore it. That small pool of water could quickly spiral out of control and turn into a huge mess without any notice.
More often than not, water surrounding your water heater is a clear sign that youneed to do water heater replacement as soon as possible. A tiny leak in a water heater could develop into a much bigger problem once your unit gives out on you completely.
And this is far from the only indication that you need to have water heater replacement done. There are also lots of other signs that will indicate your home's water heater is on its way out.
Here are some things you'll notice about your water heater when water heater replacement is on the horizon for you.
Struggles to Produce Hot Water for Your Home
There's nothing quite like jumping into a piping hot shower on a freezing cold day. It can heat your entire body up and get you ready to go out and face the world.
But if your water heater is giving you problems, you'll often have a tough time getting it to produce enough hot water for you and the rest of your family. Those piping hot showers will turn into a pipe dream before long as you're forced to take lukewarm showers day after day. Even worse, you could have a head full of shampoo and completely run out of hot water! This is no way to start your day.
There are a couple of reasons why your water heater might not be producing enough hot water. It could be because:
Your family has outgrown your home's water heater, and the water heater can no longer keep up with the demand
Your water heater's thermostat isn't set high enough, which is preventing it from producing the hot water you need
But it could also be because your water heater is on its last legs. An older water heater won't be able to produce as much hot water as it used to as over the years it gets filled up with minerals and scale.
If yours is running out of hot water frequently, tell everyone in your family to start taking slightly shorter showers to see if that fixes the issue. Unless of course you have teenagers in the house, in that case maybe choose your battles as limiting sacred shower time could be dangerous!
You could also attempt to adjust your water heater's thermostat so that it's producing hotter water, as maybe it was bumped or mistakenly turned down. However, if you do adjust the thermostat be careful, water heaters can make water hot enough to scald your skin so make sure you test it before you leave it on a higher setting. If both of those things fail to do the trick, you might be looking at a water heater replacement.
It Stops Producing Hot Water Altogether
Often when a water heater starts to give you grief it won’t give you any notice. You’ll notice that the water isn’t as hot as it had been, and then next time you use some hot water it will be stone cold. Often the cause is a loss of the flame that heats your water. There are many potential causes for the flame to go out, and its often a sign of impending trouble. When this happens you've usually got a much bigger problem on your hands. The solution is no longer something as simple as taking shorter showers or turning up your water heater's thermostat.
Unless you don't mind taking cold showers for a few days, you'll need to get a plumber on the phone right away and scheduleplumbing services with them. Don’t wait too long to call as you and your family aren't going to be able to get access to hot water from home until you get the problem fixed.
In some instances, you might be able to get your hot water back by having a repair made to your water heater. In many cases you’ll find the cost of a repair will be a significant portion of a new water heater. Depending on the age of your current hot water heater you’ll have to decide if it is worth investing some money in or if it’s time to replace your water heater all together.
It Makes Strange Sounds When It's Being Used
Are there all kinds of crazy sounds coming from your basement, your utility closet, or wherever you keep your home's hot water heater stored?
Those sounds are likelytrying to tell you something. They're attempting to tell you that your water heater needs service and possibly even a water heater replacement in the not-too-distant future.
Under normal circumstances, you might notice your water heater making very subtle sounds as it fires up and begins to heat your home's water. But when your water heater is starting to die on you, it'll often make very loud cracking and popping sounds that will be hard to miss.
The sounds that you hear are typically indicative of an interaction that's taking place between the heating elements in your water heater and sediment that has built up inside your tank. This is the sound of water boiling at the bottom of the tank that is trapped underneath a bed of sediment, as the water boils into steam it makes quite a racket. Unfortunately at this point there isn’t anything you can do to fix the tank and it will continue making noise for the rest of its life. This sound is telling you it is time to have your water heater replaced.
Whatever you do, don't ignore the sounds that you hear from your water heater or try to muffle them by closing the door to your basement or utility closet. Instead, pay close attention to the sounds and let a plumber know about whatever it is that you're hearing.
This will allow a plumber to diagnose whatever the issue is with your water heater. It'll also give them the information they need to determine whether or not you need to have water heater replacement done right away.
It Sends Rust-Coloured Water Out Into Your Home
When you turn on the faucet in your kitchen or the shower in your bathroom, is there rust-coloured water coming out of them?
In many instances, this might not indicate a problem with your water heater. It could very well be a sign of an issue with the local water supply. You should check with your neighbours to see if they're experiencing something similar. You can also check to see if it only happens when using hot water.
There could alsobe other issues that are causing your home's tap water to be brown.
It could also prove that there's a problem with your water heater that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. You obviously don't want to drink rust-coloured water or use it to bathe since it could potentially come with health risks.
So, why does water sometimes turn rust-coloured as a result of a problem with your water heater? It usually has to do with internal glass liner of the tank breaking down which exposes the steel tank to the water. Over time, the steel tank rusts into the water which then goes to all of the fixtures in the home. It can then wreak havoc on your home's water by discolouring it and turning it a shade of brown.
At first, the water produced by your water heater might be a very light shade of brown. It might not even be noticeable if you aren't paying close attention to the colour of your water.
But in time, the color can get to be worse and worse and make your home's water obviously brown. When that happens, it'll be just about impossible to miss the rust-coloured water coming out of your faucets and showerheads.
Rather than simply living with rust-coloured water in your home, you should contact a plumber right away to come and take a closer look at your water. They may be able to drain your water tank and fix the issue, or they may recommend that you do awater heater replacement to take care of the problem once and for all.
Creates Water That Has a Metallic Taste
When you have rust-coloured water shooting out of your faucets day in and day out, it's pretty obvious that you have a problem with your hot water heater caused by the internal rusting and corrosion of the tank. But that rust can sometimes cause issues that aren't quite that obvious.
Instead of turning your home's water a brownish colour, the exposed steel rusting in your hot water heaters tank may change the way your water tastes and smells. When the sediment gets mixed in with your water, it can cause it to have a metallic taste. You might also experience a metallic smell in your home when your water is on.
This is, again, not something that you should ignore. Your water heater could be contaminating the water coming into your home, and it could even be putting your family's health at risk.
Before you call on a plumber to come and check out your water heater, you should make sure there isn't a bigger issue affecting the water in your home. There is always a chance that there could be a problem with all the water in your area.
But if that doesn't turn out to be the case, your next course of action should be to see what a plumber thinks about your metallic water.
Your home's water pipescould be to blame for it, but it could also be your water heater that's the source of the problem.
It Needs Repairs on a Regular Basis
Does it feel like another repair needs to be made to your home's hot water heater each and every time that you turn around? You might be spending a fortune trying to keep your old water heater up and running.
At some point, it's going to be time to cut your losses and pull the plug. It's not worth dumping a bunch of money into a water heater only to have it give out on you time and time again.
It doesn't cost as much as you might think to do water heater replacement in Canada. Depending on the tank that is currently installed, a skilled plumber will be able to help you decide if changes to the size or style may be necessary for what you need.
On average, it costssomewhere in the neighbourhood of $1,400 to replace a 40 gallon conventional style water heater with a newer model depending on the plumbing company. If you are able to find a steal of a deal, beware of additional charges that may pile on at the end. Its a common trick to get you business, they lure you in with a low price and then hit you with surprise charges at the end. Make sure you ask lots of questions at the start so you don’t get caught with a surprise charge.
If you are replacing with a larger than 40 gallon tank or with the newer style (power vented or direct power vented) tanks it will cost more. You could also choose togo with a tankless water heater or a more advanced model. Often it still works out to be less than what you would pay to repair your water heater over and over again as it reaches the end of its life.
Unless your water heater has some sentimental value to you (which we haven’t come across yet), ask your plumber if they think it is worth trying to fix or not. Often you’ll find that that a repair isn’t worth the risk when you could pay a bit more and have a new tank with a new warranty.
Arrives at the End of Its Expected Lifespan
No matter how hard you work to maintain and repair your home's hot water heater, there is inevitably going to come a time when it simply stops working for you. It'll no longer be capable of providing you and your family with the hot water that you want and need.
If you can't remember the last time you had your water heater replaced, that probably means that it has outlived its expected lifespan already. In Edmonton most water heaters will last forsomewhere between 10 and 15 years before giving out on you. You'll need to do a water heater replacement once that time comes.
That doesn't necessarily mean that you should try and get every last little bit of life out of a water heater, though. If your water heater has lasted for more than a decade, it's likely time to start preparing for a water heater replacement even if your water heater hasn't demonstrated any signs of trouble because it’s only a matter of time until it fails on you. You’ll feel much better if you have already budgeted for a replacement when the time comes!
The last thing you want to do is push your water heater to the brink and pay the price for it. We have replaced tanks before that had been leaking for quite some time and all of the seams on the tank had been taped in an effort to hold the leaks back. Trust us when we say that this is not safe, and won’t work. Once a water heater starts to leak from the tank the tank is structurally compromised and it needs to be replaced immediately.
We recommend you put a leak detection device beside your water heater so that if it does start to leak you’ll know right away and can act accordingly. If you choose to ignore a leak, the tank could rupture and cause serious flooding to your home very quickly.
Rather than putting yourself through that, keep a close eye on the age of your water heater and replace it when it starts to show its age. This way you’ll have time to budget for a new water heater and you shouldn’t have to go without hot water at any point.
When to Fix and When to Replace
There are quite a variety of repairs that can be required on a water heater that can range from simple to complex and expensive. We generally recommend that tanks that are 10 years old or older should be replaced, not repaired as they are nearing the end of their expected lifespan. It is a painful thought to put money into an old water heater only to have the tank spring a leak a few weeks later.
Common problems include leaks at the drain and the relief valve, gas valve failure, and ignition / pilot issues. When the drain or relief valve leaks it is usually an easy fix, although there can be complications. However, if there are leaks coming from anywhere else on the tank it almost always means that the tank itself is compromised and it needs to be replaced immediately.
When the gas valve or burner / ignitor is acting up the repairs can get very costly in a hurry. If your tank is still young it may be worth making the repair, but if it is close to 10 years old it usually isn’t worth the risk.
One factor that will alter the lifespan of you water heater is a water softener. If you have a water softener installed you water heater should last much longer than normal. Soft water won’t leave scale and hardness deposits in your water heater tank so the tank will usually last much longer. When paired with a water softener it is often worthwhile to repair rather than replace as the expected lifespan of a tank is usually 20 years or more in this case.
No matter what the issue is, a good plumber will be able to explain your options to you so you can make an informed decision about your water heater. It is important to us at Mr. Rooter Plumbing that you have the opportunity to understand what is going on with your water heater and the reasoning behind our recommendations.
What to Ask for in a Water Heater Replacement
Just like everything else, there are lots of water heater options out there. Every plumber will have their preference of water heater, but don’t be afraid to challenge them on why theirs is the best.
A major red flag to look out for is a plastic drain valve. These valves are often found on consumer grade tanks available at big box stores. If the tank does need to be drained at some point the drain valve almost never closes again after opening. If this is the case the valve will have to be replaced, but often they break in half when trying to remove it from the tank. As you can see we aren’t big fans of the plastic drain valves. Instead look for a brass valve on the tank.
Another thing to inquire about is the reliability of the gas valve. Gas valve repairs are very common on water heaters with some valves getting more attention than others. Make sure to ask your plumber about the reliability of the gas valve on the tank they are selling.
Another good question to ask is what is included in the installation? Will the water lines be soldered, pressed, or be quick connections? We prefer to use copper pipes instead of the quick connection lines used by some others to save time. Will a new shut off valve be installed? We recommend a new shut off valve if you are replacing a tank, as they tend to get old too. We also recommend asking about the installation warranty. A qualified plumber should have no problem warranting a water heater installation to match the manufacturer’s warranty.
Keep in mind that manufacturer’s warranties only cover parts, they do not cover the labour required to install the parts. The installation warranty provided by your plumber will warranty the water and gas line connections but also will not cover replacement of parts on the tank other than those connections.
Schedule Water Heater Replacement Today
Have you experienced any of the things on this list with your water heater? That should be a cause for concern.
Whether your water heater is making strange sounds or in constant need of repair, it's time for you to reach out to a plumber for assistance. They can inspect your water heater and let you know if water heater replacement is something that's in your future.
Replacing your water heater will improve the lives of you and your family. It'll also prevent you from having to deal with any more headaches associated with your home's hot water supply.
Contact us today if you would like to set up water heater replacement for your home.