Water heater ownership doesn't typically take too much thought and expense, but not all water heaters are the same. If yours is old and derelict, it could cost you more in repairs than you should have to put up with. And even if it still works fine, an older unit can sometimes be inferior in performance, efficiency, and safety than a newer unit.
Here are five questions that can help you assess whether you should look into a replacement water heater.
1. Does Your Unit Keep Breaking Down?
Often, a series of breakdowns may be the first thing that catches your attention and makes you wonder if you should keep putting money into repairs. In fact, depending on the type of malfunction, your contractor may suggest a replacement rather than a repair.
For example, if the tank leaks through the temperature or pressure relief valve, that's a quick and affordable repair because the valve is easy to replace. But if the tank leaks because it has a lot of rust, you'll need a whole new unit. You can't repair a rusted tank, and it will continue leaking and contaminating your water with rust until you replace the tank.
2. Has Your Unit Been Well-Maintained?
As with antique cars, the condition of your aging water heater likely depends on how well you've cared for it. For example, if you (or the previous owners) flushed out, inspected, and serviced the tank on a regular basis, you probably have a functional tank and anode rod. But if you've ignored the unit for a few years, that may not be the case.
The anode rod keeps the tank itself from rusting through by attracting corrosion from the water in the tank itself. This means that corrosion gradually eats away the anode rod, which is why you need to replace it on a regular basis. Otherwise, the anode rod will fail and the water will start to corrode the inside of your tank instead. Once that happens, you have no choice but to replace your tank.
3. Are You Selling Your House?
Homebuyers love shiny new appliances and fixtures, and if you sell in a certain area of the country or to a certain demographic, replacing the water heater may be a good investment. For example, millennials often want to live eco-friendly lives, so installing a new, efficient heater could be a help if you market to young families.
New appliances and plumbing fixtures may also help your house sell faster. They help signal to buyers that the place is ready to live in and doesn't require major investments and replacements. For example, a house that needs a kitchen remodel with all new appliances may be more difficult to finance, and the buyer might have to take out a second loan for repairs.
4. Do You Need More Hot Water?
If you add on to your house or if you plan to add new people to your home, reassess how much hot water you'll need and when and how you'll need it.
If you'll have more people taking showers in the mornings, for example, you'll need to have a large heater to support the two gallon per minute flow. A 50-gallon tank only provides about 33 gallons of hot water at once, or around 16.5 minutes of shower.
You can also replace your tank heater with an on-demand heater to ensure nobody has to suffer a cold shower. Instead of drawing from a tank, tankless models heat water when you turn your faucet on.
5. Do You Want Higher Efficiency?
Another benefit of newer water heaters is efficiency. You can save electricity by switching to an alternative heater, such as a tankless or heat pump model. Even a conventional water heater can be more efficient if you choose an Energy Star model. Factors such as added insulation and high-performance burners reduce the energy use of these more efficient heaters.
These five questions will help you determine if the time has come to replace your aging water heater. Ritz Plumbing can help you select, replace, or repair a water heater for any situation. Give us a call today to get started.