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Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater?

Written by Vaughan Comfort Services on . Posted in .

Issues with your water heater are always alarming. It can often be hard for the average homeowner to diagnose the severity of the problem by sight alone, leading many to worry about the cost. Can you resolve this with some quick maintenance, or is that only prolonging the inevitable? Are you replacing prematurely, or is it time?

By identifying the key signs of what’s wrong with your water heater, you can narrow down the next steps you should take.

Check the Age of Your Heater

The first sign that your heater needs to be replaced is age. If your heater is older than eight years, it’s a strong possibility that age-related wear is the cause of your issue. If it’s older than 12, it’s a sure sign that your heater is ready for replacement. If you’re unsure of how old your heater is, just check the serial number. The first digit will be a letter corresponding to a month (G=7, 7=July), and the following two numbers indicate the last two digits of the year (08=2008).

If you’re noticing issues before the replacement date, it might be a sign that you can resolve these problems with maintenance. But if you’re in that 8-12 year window, it’s increasingly likely that repairs won’t have a substantial impact before you run into another issue.

Look for Leaks

If you’re noticing leaks, it could be a sign that the overall structural integrity of your water heater has been compromised. Fractures from repeated use will be small at first and can be almost undetectable. You should inspect the area around the device when it’s running; thermal expansion will cause the crack to open, allowing water to escape. If you’re finding leaks during other periods, it could be a sign that the issue is caused by a malfunctioning component or the pipes attached to the heater.

Check for Sediment Buildup

You might not see leaks around your heater, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. A telltale sign is sediment, or loose dirt and grime, building up at the bottom of the water heater. You’ll eventually see this accumulate into a thick layer, and it means that you’re in the early stages of a possible device failure.

Now we’ll look at some more diagnostic signs that can help guide you on whether it’s time to call a repair professional or to start shopping for a new water heater. If you’d like expert advice on whether to repair or replace your water heater, contact us.

We have discussed a few diagnostic signs that can help tell the average homeowner whether it’s time to repair or replace their water heater. If you’re seeing any of the issues described here, it may be time to call an HVAC professional to get some expert advice.

Here are some more signs to watch out for:

Rust Collecting Around the Heater

If you’ve noticed the accumulation of rust anywhere near your water heater, you have a serious issue. If you notice rust on the exterior of the heater, the issue is easy to diagnose: your heater has aged to the point of leaking, and the rust is a sign of fissures.

Rust in in the hot water itself is trickier, as the cause can be anything from the heater, the pipes, or the faucet. Regardless, this poses a significant health risk for the residents of your home. If your water heater is within the 8-12 year window of age, it’s a strong sign that the rust is originating from the inside of your heater. Check the water inlet and pressure relief valve on the heater for signs of rust. You can also narrow it down by assessing when the rust is appearing. If rust is only in your water when it’s hot or has recently been heated, that points heavily to the heater. If you see it whenever used, that points to a pipe issue.

Noticing Strange Noises

A failing water heater will emanate noises from its tank with increasing volume. You want to listen for a low, heavy rumble that gets stronger as the device heats up.
If you’re hearing more of a popping, bubbling noise – like a percolating coffee maker – it means that there’s just sediment buildup in the tank that needs to be flushed out. A screech will also mean that there’s a plumbing issue or blockage preventing proper water flow.

Fixing Performance Issues

If you’re seeing issues with the energy efficiency or overall performance of your water heater, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re due for a replacement. If your water isn’t heating up as fast as you’ve come to expect or you’re seeing a spike in your power bill, the first step is a thorough inspection and upkeep.
Erratic or poor performance can be the result of electrical issues including a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. Check that your heater is receiving consistent, uninterrupted power before taking any major steps.

If you’re seeing temperature irregularities, check your pipes. They could be the result of issues with the insulation of the pipes themselves, especially if you’re noticing that issue in a specific area of the home. A faulty thermostat or pilot light can do the same thing.

A lot of issues can be resolved by flushing your water heater. The buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank can cause issues with water quality, noise, energy inefficiency, and poor performance.

And if you’re seeing leakage on the pressure relief valve, don’t worry; that just means that the valve itself needs to be replaced.

If you’re considering water heater replacement, give the Plumbing Experts of Vaughan HVAC a call today. With decades of experience replacing water heaters, we’ve seen a thing or two and have the experience to help you out.

At Vaughan, we have the expertise to conduct a full replacement of your water heater or to conduct the maintenance that will extend its lifespan. For more information, contact us at 856-322-8005.


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NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521

Contact Info
VAUGHAN COMFORT SERVICES
212 Barrett Avenue
Magnolia, NJ 08049
856-627-0303

© Vaughan Comfort Services