Tank-style water heaters have a lifespan of around 10 years. Depending on the amount of use and whether or not it has been regularly maintained, it could last significantly longer, or need replacement much sooner. So how do you know when it's time to replace the water heater versus repairing it?
1. The Water Heater Is LeakingSome water heater leaks could are the result of a faulty valve or a leaking pipe. If this is the case, it may just need a simple repair to keep it running longer. If the water heater tank is leaking because of corrosion, it is probably time to replace the unit.
2. The Water Heater Is Slow to Heat WaterFirst, check that the temperature is set high enough by looking at the thermostat. If demand for hot water has increased in the home, you may just need a larger capacity tank installed or a tankless water heater. Slow heating can also be caused by rust and sediment that has accumulated at the bottom. In some cases, you can hear a boiling sound if there is sediment at the bottom of the tank. Flushing the tank will remove the sediment, improving efficiency and heating the water more quickly. If the water heater is still not heating fast enough after flushing the unit, it may be time for a new water heater.
3. Malfunctioning Water Heater
In some cases, the water heater may be have broken parts that need replacement. Your plumber can check the heating element (electric water heaters) thermostat, gas burner and thermocouple to make sure they are functioning. Consider the age of the unit against the cost of repairs when deciding whether to repair the unit.