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Should I Replace My Water Heater?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Find Out When You Should Replace Your Water Heater

Water heaters don’t last a lifetime, just like any other home appliance. One day, you will just find yourself stepping into a cold shower, indicating that something is wrong with your water heater.  Is it time to replace it? You wonder, “Should I repair or replace my water heater?” Let’s find out!

Plumbing Pro Water Heater Replacement
Read on to see the most common ways to tell if you should replace your water heater.

Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater?

Knowing the importance of a water heater in your home, you’re wondering how long you can use it. You ask yourself, “should I replace my water heater before it fails?” Likewise, there are others who wonder to themselves, “should I replace my 10-year-old water heater,” or “should I replace my 20-year-old water heater?”

The answer to these questions is tied to the answer to “how long do water heaters last?” The average life expectancy of water heaters differ based on the type. If it’s a tankless electric water heater, it can last up to 20 years. If the electric water heater is not tankless, you can use it for about 10 to 15 years. A tankless gas water heater can also last 20 years while a tank gas water heater has an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years.

These numbers should tell you when to replace a water heater. The general advice is to change a water heater that’s well over 10 years old, especially if it is already failing or constantly needs repair. But if the repair costs are still relatively cheap and not over 50% of the heater’s original price, repairing it is perhaps a better choice.

Factors That Affect Water Heater Lifespan

Various factors can affect the health and life expectancy of a water heater. Knowing these factors are crucial in determining how long your water heater will last and when you can expect to have to replace it. You can find out more about these factors below.

Type of Water Heater

Different types of water heaters have different types of expected lifespans, as mentioned before. Tankless heaters, both electric and gas, have the longest lifespan compared to tank heaters, particularly tank gas heaters. This means that if the heater doesn’t supply the water, it should last longer as it operates more efficiently that way. On the other hand, gas water heaters are cheaper to operate than electric ones.

Water Heater Replacement Tankless Diagnose
Different types of water heaters have different expected lifespans.

Quality of Water

The quality of water also affects the heater’s life expectancy, particularly if it’s hard water. Hard water contains more dissolvable materials, which is why it reduces a heater’s lifespan. On the other hand, using a whole-house water softener can help extend the water heater’s lifespan by softening the water in your home.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, has provided useful info about how to tell if your water heater needs replacement, along with some suggested solutions and DIY tips to get your current one repaired or a new one installed.


Maintenance is crucial in extending the life expectancy of a water heater. But how frequent should maintenance be? According to most manufacturers, your water heater should be flushed out annually. Flushed out means the tank is emptied and refilled with clean water. On the other hand, you should always check the heater for leaks at least once a month.

Water Heater Replacement Gas Heater Checkup
The more you manage your water heater maintenance, the longer it’ll likely last.

Location of Installation

Where the water heater is installed is also crucial to improving the product’s lifespan. Keep this in mind when installing your heater: it will be difficult to maintain a hot temperature if the heater is installed in a garage or crawl space. Such locations also make it hard to get the water warm. The water heater will also likely get worn out faster in these locations. If you want it to last longer, it is best to install the water heater in a more temperature-controlled location.

Signs Indicating the Need for a Water Heater Checkup

If you want to know if it’s time to get your water heater checked or replaced, you need to know the signs to be on the lookout for. There are many tell-tale signs of a failing water heater, and we’ll discuss some of them below.

Old Water Heater

First of all, as we mentioned, it is maybe time to replace your water heater if it’s older than its life expectancy. If you have been using it for more than 15 or 20 years and haven’t had proper maintenance, consider replacing it with a newer, better model.

Leaking Water Heater

It’s never good if the water heater is leaking. If the heater is old and leaking, it’s a sure sign that it needs replacing. But if it hasn’t been long and the heater isn’t in critical age yet, it might still be repaired as long as you get it checked by a professional plumber right away.

Doesn’t Have Hot Water

Something’s obviously wrong with your water heater if it isn’t producing hot water. No hot water could be due to a faulty heating element, a broken thermostat, and a million other things. Have a professional plumber check it to confirm it’s best to replace it or if it can still be repaired.

Warm, Not Hot Water

Water heaters need annual maintenance to ensure it is properly working. If not, soon your water heater’s heating element loses efficiency and your heater produces not hot water, but warm. Your local plumber might still be able to repair it, but replacement is also a possible solution.

Noisy Water Heater

Noises also indicate that your water heater might need replacing soon. If you hear knocking noises from the tank, it’s usually because of sediments at the bottom of the water heater. These sediments create all kinds of sounds when the tank is heated. This is a sign that your water heater is now quite old and is better replaced.

Water Heater repair DIY tips
Hearing strange noises or not getting hot enough water could indicate bigger issues with your water heater.

Rusted Storage Tank

If the water heater has a corroded or rusted water tank, then it’s time to replace it. Replacement is the best solution here. Otherwise, you might have bigger issues like flooding. This is true, especially if you can see the rust clearly at the bottom of the tank. It means the tank has been completely eroded.

Repaired Several Times Already

If you have your heater repaired more than a few times, it’s better to just replace it. It’s not a great idea to spend a lot on repairs if it just keeps on breaking down. You can save more on buying a brand-new water heater with the latest upgrades and technologies.

Water Heater Repair or Replacement FAQs

Is a Leaking Water Heater Dangerous?

There is a significant risk associated with a leaking water heater. For one, it can injure you due to scalding water. It can also ruin your property as a result of water damage and fire hazard. Moreover, not fixing a leaking water heater can lead to further damage until the unit completely fails. A leaking water heater might seem like a small problem, but it can be damaging if not addressed immediately.

Can I DIY the Water Heater Installation?

You may have tried searching online for DIY videos on how to install a water heater. We strongly suggest not doing this because it can be dangerous. Water heaters, especially those fueled by gas, can lead to fire hazards. Hooking up gas lines is best handled by a professional. Let a professional take care of it to save yourself from frustration, extra cost, and fear for your safety.

Are Water Heaters Included in Home Insurance?

It is most likely that you will have to cover the cost of repairs or replacement of a broken water heater. Most insurance policies don’t cover this, although there are some that do. There are also home insurance policies that don’t cover water heater mechanical problems but cover risk damages. We advise reading the fine print of your insurance plan or talking with your agent about it to be sure.

Hire a Local Water Heater Repair or Installation Pro

If you need help diagnosing, repairing, or installing a water heater, then don’t hesitate to contact a trusted, local plumbing pro using the phone number or form on this page.

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