From leaks to a lack of hot water, there are several clear signs that your hot water heater is no longer working properly. Some issues can be repaired. Other problems indicate a need for replacement.
This guide will address when to replace a water heater. It includes tips for taking better care of your water heater.
Water Heater Lifespan
If your tank water heater is more than 10 years old, it may be time to consider replacing it.
With proper maintenance, a tank water heater tank should last six to 12 years. A tankless water heater can last for more than 20 years.
Check your water heater’s warranty for the most accurate timelines.
Care and Maintenance History
Proper maintenance is vital to preserve and extend the life of any water heater. Without regular upkeep, you may have to repair or replace your unit sooner.
To keep your water heater in top condition, the tank should be drained, flushed and cleaned at least once a year. If you live in an area with hard water, consider having your water heater serviced every six months.
Tankless water heaters require less maintenance than ones with a tank. Still, the hot water system should be flushed each year to prevent sediment buildup caused by lime and mineral deposits. To remove this buildup, a tankless water heater can be turned off and flushed with water and white vinegar for 60 minutes.
Signs of Wear
A common sign of trouble with any water heater is often a higher utility bill. If your unit is using extra energy to provide the same amount of hot water, it’s time to take a closer look at it.
What to look for:
- Leaks: If your water heater is leaking, it must be replaced immediately. Leaks are usually the result of pressure buildup inside the tank. This happens when the water pressure or temperature is too high, or when the unit’s relief valve is not working properly. Neglecting a leak can lead to a tank explosion. Signs of leaks include moisture or puddles around the water heater’s base and water corrosion on the side of your tank. Contact a trusted professional immediately if you notice these warning signs.
- Knocking Noises: Loud noises are an indication of sediment buildup. As sediment hardens, it can move around the tank and cause knocking, rumbling and gurgling sounds. To preserve your water heater and prevent unecessary wear and tear, have it flushed regularly to remove any deposits from the tank’s heating elements.
- Rusty Water: Water discoloration is a clear sign your unit is underperforming. Rust-colored water or water with a metallic odor can mean a few things. Either the sacrificial anode rod needs to be replaced or the tank itself is beginning to rust, often due to corrosion at the steel lining. A corroded tank must be replaced as soon as possible.
- Cloudy Water: When you see cloudy water, it may indicate you have a sediment buildup in your water heater.
- Cold Water: If your water remains cold even after you turn on the hot water tap, a heating element may be broken.
When Repairs Are Possible
Water heaters can occasionally be repaired by replacing a few key elements. Replaceable parts include:
- Burner assembly
- Heating elements
You may be able to repair your water heater if:
- The unit is less than 10 years old
- A replaceable part is failing
You should consider replacing your water heater if:
- The unit is more than 10 years old
- It has not been properly maintained
- It is showing the signs of wear listed above
The Home Depot Purchase Protection Plan
If you’re still not sure whether you can repair your unit or need to have it replaced, submit your information here or give us a call at 800-HOME-DEPOT. Our team will discuss your needs, schedule a consultation and confirm the diagnostic fee.
At your in-home appointment, we’ll conduct a thorough inspection of your system to identify the cause of the issue. You will then be provided a quote, and the repair can be performed on the spot unless special parts are required.
If you choose to replace your water heater, we’ll apply the cost of your diagnostic visit toward the purchase of a new water heater.
To extend your hot water heater’s labor warranty, sign up for The Home Depot’s Purchase Protection Plan. It offers leak protection from day one, 24/7 service and free removal and replacement for water heater tanks. Read the FAQ about our Water Heater Plans for full details.
When to replace a water heater depends on the problems you're having. Some issues can be resolved with repairs, but if your water heater is more than 10 years old, replacing it may be the best option. With the right water heater parts and accessories, you may be able to fix a water heater yourself.
If it's time to replace or repair your water heater, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.