When Is It Time to Replace Your Water Heater?

Five Signs Your Water Heater Needs to Be Replaced.

Hot water. It’s something we all take for granted as we jump in the shower every morning, run our dishwasher and wash the bedding before our holiday guests arrive. While these luxuries are commonplace in most households, it is all too easy to neglect the piece of equipment that makes them all possible – your hot water heater. Like even the finest tuned motors, hot water heaters endure wear and tear over time and even with regular maintenance, need to eventually be replaced.

Expiration Date

Hot water heaters typically have a maximum lifespan of ten years. Most homeowners don’t have any idea when the expiration date of their hot water is however. Letting your hot water continue to run after its expiration date can lead to serious problems when it comes time to replace it. If your water heater runs on gas, it likely has a shorter lifespan of six to eight years. Symptoms of an expired water heater include rust, leaks, noises and a failure to heat water.

To check the expiration date of your hot water heater, reference the serial number of the back which tells the date of origin. The first letter will correspond to the month and the next two numbers will tell you the year. The letters G, D and I correspond to the months July, April and September.

Noise from the Heater

Rumbling noises coming from the tank are a sure sign your water heater needs to be replaced. Once this noise begins, it will only continue to become more pronounced so you will have plenty of warning.

Rumbling noises are most often caused by sediment buildup. Over time, sediment accumulates in the bottom of the tank where it hardens and thickens. This can lead to inefficiency and your heater using more and more energy to heat water. A tank that takes longer to heat water also wears more quickly as metal weakens and cracks form.

In order to prevent sediment buildup, we recommend flushing the take on a yearly basis. If the tank continues to make noise after flushing, you’re most likely faced with a more serious problem that can lead to cracks and leaks.

Water Around the Heater

If you start seeing water around the floor of your water heater, there’s a good chance your tank has a leak. Over time leaks can cause serious property damage including dry rot, ruined carpet and mold.

As water is heated over and over inside the tank, the metal expands causing fractures that are barely noticeable. At the height of the heating cycle, these fractures widen further allowing small amounts of water to leak onto the floor.

If you notice water leaking from your tank, check all fittings and connections to the tank as well as the pressure overflow pipe to make sure everything is sealed.

Rusty Water or Heater Valve

If you notice rust on your water tank or any connective components, a leak is likely on its way. Finding rust in your hot water or on the pressure relief valve likely means you have rust in the tank itself. Unfortunately, a rusty water tank is not salvageable and must be replaced. If rust shows up in cold tap water on the other hand, it may be coming from your pipes. To find the source of rust, we suggest draining a number of buckets of hot water from your tank. If rust is still noticeable by the third or fourth bucket load, it is coming from your tank, not your pipes.

Water Does not Heat to Desired Levels

The loss of heat in your water probably stems from one of three issues: A maladjusted thermostat, a broken heating component or a tank that is too small for your house.

If you’re not receiving hot water, check the thermostat to make sure it is set to between 120 and 140 degrees. If you’re water is still too cold, a quick phone call to an Einstein Pro can have the problem diagnosed and remedied quickly. If a plumber is unable to find the cause of hot water loss, your tank may be too small for the demands of your house and a larger hot water should be installed.

Water is essential to our daily lives and usually needs to be heated to some degree. If access to hot water is lost, our showers become cold, we are unable to adequately wash dishes and our lives become immediately less comfortable. For this reason alone, it is paramount to keep up maintenance of your hot water heater and be able to recognize the telling signs that it needs to be replaced.