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Signs You Need a New Water Heater

Signs You Need a New Water Heater

Is your water heater on the fritz? It might be time to replace your water heater if:

  • You have no hot water (or less than you used to)

  • Water is leaking from the unit

  • Rusty or cloudy hot water is coming from your taps

  • Your unit emits strange noises

  • Your unit is 10+ years old

  • Your unit requires more frequent repairs

We'll go over each sign that it's time to replace your water heater in more detail. We also explain when you can benefit from a repair instead of replacing your system.

Need help from a professional plumber? Call Reliable Heating & Air at (770) 594-9969 or schedule an appointment.

Our plumbers will inspect your water heater to let you know whether it's time for a water heater replacement, and can explain your options for tank water heaters and tankless water heaters. They'll also let you know about any water heater specials we're currently offering to help you get the best deal on your system!

Signs you need a new water heater

No hot water

A lack of sufficient hot water is one of the most common indicators that you need a water heater replacement. If you notice:

  • No hot water all of a sudden, that could mean a heating element is broken—assuming the problem isn't an extinguished pilot light or a tripped circuit. Since the heating element is the heart of your system, it can cost several hundred dollars to repair or replace.

  • Reduced hot water over time, this naturally happens with water heaters. As they age and become clogged with sediment, they lose efficiency and struggle to keep up with your home's hot water demands.

Leaking water

Leaks in your water heater are a sign that pressure is building inside your system, which can happen when the water pressure or temperature is too high, or from a malfunctioning pressure relief valve.

If you have a tank water heater leaking, it should be replaced immediately to avoid a tank explosion. Leaking tankless water heaters should also be fixed as soon as possible, but don't risk a tank explosion due to pressure.

Rusty or cloudy hot water

Discolored hot water is one tell-tale sign that your water heater is on its way out. If the hot water coming from your taps is:

  • Rusty, that likely means something inside your tank is corroding. If it's the sacrificial anode rod—a magnesium or aluminum rod that attracts iron, limestone and other minerals to make sure it rusts instead of your tank—this can fortunately be replaced. If it's not the rod that's rusting, it's likely the steel lining inside your tank. A rusting water heater unfortunately means your unit will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

  • Cloudy, that usually indicates sediment buildup. The minerals in tap water can accumulate inside your water heater tank, which impact your water heater's performance and decrease its efficiency. This is likely the problem if you also hear a knocking sound when you turn on the hot water. You can flush your tank to get rid of the sediment, but if the sediment has been sitting in the tank for so long that there are other problems, you may need to replace it.

Strange noises

Popping or knocking sounds coming from your water heater indicate sediment buildup. The sediment settles at the bottom of the tank, essentially insulating the heating element. When the heating element heats up, it causes the water to boil but prevents the bubbles from escaping the layer of sediment—causing a knocking or popping sound.

Unit is 10+ years old

Most water heaters only last 10-15 years. You might be able to get a few more years from your system by replacing certain parts when they need to be replaced. But if you're thinking of upgrading to a more efficient unit or are looking at a hefty repair cost, you may just want to replace your system.

More frequent repairs

If a professional is repairing your water heater every few months, that's a sign that your unit is failing. The cost of back-to-back repairs add up and can quickly become a waste of money compared to buying a new system.

As a general guideline, you should replace your water heater if it's reached 50% of its lifespan (so roughly 5-7 years) and if the repair cost is more than 50% of the cost of a new unit. This guideline is also handy to keep in mind for other household appliances!

When to repair vs. replace your water heater

Think your water heater still has some life left in it? You can likely get away with repairing your water heater instead of replacing it if the unit:

  • Only needs a certain part replaced. A plumber can replace water heater parts like valves, thermostats, some heating elements, ignitors and motors. If only one or two parts need replacing, the repair may be worth the cost to get a few more years out of your unit.

  • Has been properly maintained. Proper water heater maintenance includes making sure the tank is properly insulated, at a consistent unit temperature, flushed for sediment annually, and tested for rust by checking the anode rod. If the system is several years old and hasn't been properly maintained, it likely won't be in the best of shape—so won't have too many years left.

  • Is less than 10 years old. As we mentioned above, water heaters that hit their 10-year mark usually don't have much time left. But if the unit is less than 10 years old and the repair is a relatively minor one, it will probably be worth not having to replace your system.

Need a new water heater? Call Reliable Heating & Air.

Call us today at (770) 594-9969 or schedule an appointment for a free in-home estimate.

For more than 40 years, we've been offering the most reliable water heater installations in the greater Atlanta area. Our plumbing experts will give you an honest answer as to whether you need a new system, then explain your options so you get the best water heater for your lifestyle and budget.