Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater? Pt. 1

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.

In part 2, 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.


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