Should I Replace or Repair My Broken Water Heater?

When it comes to replacing appliances, it can be difficult to tell whether or not it’s the right time to invest in something new. Your water heater is one of your home’s most crucial appliances for keeping you and your family comfortable, so it’s important to make sure that your unit is functioning at its very best. Water heater replacement can seem expensive at the time of service, but continuously servicing a water heater that is past the point of repair can add up to costs that are much greater than a full water heater replacement might.

Water Heater Replacement and Plumbers Near Me:  How to Know Whether or Not Your Water Heater Needs Replacing

Whether your home uses a tankless water heater or a traditional electric or gas model, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when you’re facing water heater trouble. Perhaps you’ve already searched for “plumbers near me” online and explored what it would take to repair or replace your water heater. Before you make any decisions, make sure to ask yourself these important questions.

What Type of Repair Should I Seek?

Depending on the issue, your water heater may need varying levels of repair from a plumbing specialist. Before you make the decision to completely replace your water heater, it’s important to assess whether or not the level of damage or disrepair to your unit warrants a replacement.

A water heater replacement typically isn’t necessary if the repair you need is projected to cost under $500. In this situation, it’s likely cheaper, in the long run, to simply pay for a quality repair that will last and wait to replace your water heater until it’s absolutely necessary.

If the repair is projected to cost upwards of $500, however, you may want to weigh the price of repair next to the price of a replacement, considering the pros and cons for either course of action. This is especially true if you’re being billed hundreds of dollars for an issue that was supposedly fixed relatively recently during a different repair visit. If the repair didn’t last, it may be because of the age of the unit or due to the extent of damage already done to the water heater.

Not sure what types of issues might signal a need for a full water heater replacement? Here are some of the most common problems to look out for:

  • A faulty or broken pressure relief valve
  • A gas control valve that needs to be replaced
  • A broken or faulty thermocouple
  • A faulty electric water heater element within the unit
  • A leak in the tank

Typically, any one of these issues means either a very expensive repair or a necessary replacement, and in some cases, a replacement will likely be the most financially responsible option—especially since it will allow you to largely avoid repairs on the new unit for at least a few years.

Have You Noticed Consistently High Water Bills or a Lack of Hot Water?

Sometimes, when homeowners notice an unusual spike in their water bill or are unable to achieve the temperature they desire in their sink or shower, a single water heater repair visit from a local plumber completely fixes the issue. This is not always the case, however. Oftentimes, the issue comes back as soon as a few months after the most recent repair, and even multiple rounds of repair can’t seem to lower the water bills or provide consistent hot water.

If it seems like a past water heater repair just hasn’t provided the results you expected, it may be possible that you’re not receiving quality service from your plumbing company. If you don’t think this is the issue, your water heater might have become ineffective due to old age or a change in your home’s water heating needs, causing the appliance to be overworked over an extended period of time.

How Old is Your Water Heater?

Whether you have a tankless water heater or a traditional unit, age plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll be successful with a simple repair when something goes wrong. Experts suggest that the typical gas water heater lasts for around 10 years with the proper upkeep and consistent tune-ups, and the typical tankless water heater lasts for over 20 years under the same conditions.

If your water heater is in need of a pricy repair, it may be worth it to dig up any records you have of when your unit was installed. Many water heaters have manufacturing dates shown on the side of the unit. If your water heater was already installed when you moved into your home, you can always look up the serial number online or ask a plumbing expert to give his or her best guess of its age-based upon observed wear and tear on the unit. If your water heater is approaching the end of its natural life, it may save you money, in the long run, to simply replace the unit.