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Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater?

Hot Water Heater Repair vs. Replacement

Water heaters are one of the most relied-upon appliances in your home. Everything from doing your dishes to cooking to cleaning your clothes to bathing all relies on the hot water that your water heater produces. This means a water heater must run reliably all day, every day for years.

However, as with any appliance, a water heater is not immune from problems, and all units will eventually fail completely or need repair. Quite often, customers ask us whether they should have their water heater repaired or replaced outright.

The answer isn’t straightforward: it depends largely on the problems your heater is exhibiting as well as the age of the unit itself. To help you better understand the better course of action, here are some of the most common water heater problems and what’s usually the best solution.

Water Heater Not Producing Hot Water

If you turn on the hot water after everyone in the home has taken a morning shower and you’ve started a load of laundry, all within a short period of time, then the lack of hot water is probably the result of an empty tank. The solution is to wait until the heater replenishes itself—usually two to three hours.

But if no hot water comes into your house at all or the water in your home is only lukewarm, then the cause is most likely a broken heating element. Most water heaters have two heating elements, which are metal plates that channel either an electrical current or a gas flame to heat the water in your tank.

If your water heater is still fairly new (less than six years old) and the tank itself is in good condition, then replacing the heating element is usually the best choice. This is a much smaller job than replacing the tank outright, which makes it far more economical. However, if the tank is old and showing signs of disrepair, replacing a heating element likely just delaying the inevitable.

Excessive Hard Water

Have you ever noticed that your faucets that use hot water are frequently covered with stubborn white limescale, but your toilets and other fixtures that use only cold water seem to be perfectly fine? This is usually because there is a significant buildup of sediment in your water heater.

Hard water, or water with a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium, is extremely common, and these minerals tend to accumulate at the bottom of your water heater. The easiest way to resolve this problem is to drain your water heater completely and let the sediment flow out with it.

Attach a hose to the drain spout on your water heater and open the tap. It should only take several minutes to complete this process, and you should notice large crystals of sediment drain out with the water. This is the one bit of water heater maintenance you should do once a year in order to keep your water heater clean and in better condition.

Leaky Tank

Have you noticed a small drip coming from the bottom of your water heater? Bad news: your water heater is most likely leaking. All it takes is a hairline crack in your tank and water could start slowly dripping out.

A slow drip may not seem like a big deal, but once it starts, it’s only a matter of time before the leak grows and you face the risk of flooding.

Flooding can lead to serious property damage, including:

  • Destroying drywall
  • Rotting wood
  • And even ruining prized possessions if they’re located near your damaged water heater

When you’ve got a leak, it’s almost completely certain that you’ll want to replace your water heater outright. Fixing a leak is difficult, if not impossible, and doing so usually only delays the fact that the leak will come back eventually.

Tankless or Tank Water Heater?

If your water heater needs to be replaced, you could opt for a traditional tank water heater or a newer tankless variety. At Sage Plumbers, our technicians are happy to assess your needs and provide you with the knowledge to make an informed decision. Call us today so we can answer any questions you may have.

If your water heater is more than six years old and is showing its age, call Sage Plumbers at (949) 536-7471">(949) 536-7471 and let our Lake Forest plumbing experts outfit you with a new system or fix up your old one today!