Should You Have Your Water Heater Fixed or Just Replace It?

You don’t have the luxury of time when a water heater breaks. With that first burst of cold water in the shower, it’s decision time: repair or upgrade? Fortunately, you don’t need to decide on your own. Follow this guide for help choosing whether to patch up your old unit or move on to a better model.

What’s the Damage?

Most water heater failures are relatively minor and easy to diagnose. If your unit quits, start small. First, look to see if the pilot light has blown out. Simply relighting it could do the trick. If your unit is electric, it’s possible that something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker is the culprit. Also, check for broken thermostats, stuck valves, and especially for any cracks or breaks in the water tank. If your tank has cracked open and there’s a pool of water on your floor, you really don’t have much of a choice—it’s replacement time.

How Old Is Your Water Heater?

Regardless of whether your water heater can be fixed, if it’s too old it may not even be worth keeping around. Old water heaters eat up energy, while new high-efficiency units consume anywhere from 10 to 50 percent less than standard models. Solar water heaters and geothermal heat pumps are even better, and may even come with the added bonus of federal tax credits.

So when is it a good time to change your unit? The normal life expectancy of a water heater is anywhere from 10 to 13 years, so if your unit is approaching this milestone, consider upgrading to a newer model. An initial investment of $500 to $2000 could end up saving you hundreds of dollars more over the life of your water heater.

Do You Have a Maintenance Plan?

Water heaters stand the test of time a lot better if they’re well looked after. If you own a conventional tank water heater, be sure to rinse out sediment at least once a year. In addition to preventing corrosion, ridding your tank of sediment buildup will boost its efficiency and free up more space for extra-long hot showers. Scheduling annual checkups with a qualified technician will give you yet another guarantee against unwelcome pools of water on your basement floor.

Categories: Water Heater

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