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When Do You Need A Water Heater Repair vs. Replacement



Your water heater is an essential part of your home. It ensures the baths and showers you take are relaxing, that the water coming out of your sinks is warm, and your washer can get out tough stains with hot water. But how often do you think about your water heater? Chances are, you don’t think about it until it breaks. So how do you know if a simple repair can fix the problem, or if you need a new unit entirely?


We at the BC Team want to break that down for you.


Do I Need a Water Heart Repair or Replacement?

There are a few key indicators that will let you know right away if you can fix it with a repair or if you need a full on replacement. The easiest indication is the pilot light. If it’s turned off, you probably just need to light it again or call a plumber to do it for you.


But if that doesn’t work, you should look at a few other things.


The biggest indicator is age. Chances are, a three-year-old water heater just needs maintenance or a simple replacement part, while a 15-year-old water heater likely needs to be replaced.


The average lifespan for a hot water heater is around ten years. Some hot water heaters last longer than others. According to the Department of Energy, a tankless coil and indirect water heater has a life expectancy of ten or 11 years. A storage tank or heat pump will last ten to 15 years. Tankless heaters can last upwards of 20 years!


So, if your water heater is less than 8 years old, talk to a plumber and see if it can be fixed. If it’s around 8 years, you can choose to repair it, or replace it early and not risk another two years.


Water Heater Efficiency

Most hot water heaters have a sticker on the side with the estimated annual cost of operation. You should also check the R-value of your storage tank. The R-value measures how well your hot water heater resists heat. A higher R-value means your hot water tank is well insulated. If your hot water tank has an R-value that’s less than 24 (or it feels hot to touch), it may be time to replace it.


You can also look at a water heater’s energy factor. This number indicates the efficiency of the heater. A higher number means it’s more efficient, but remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less expensive annually. For that, you need to factor in fuel type and cost. (See the Department of Energy for information on how to calculate annual operating costs of a water heater).


Is There Any Damage On your Water Heater?

If your water heater is damaged, the extent of it could indicate whether or not you need a new unit. For example, a few dents in the tank are probably nothing to worry about, but rust and corrosion will always require a replacement.


Or if you have a leak, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get away with a water heater repair. Other types of problems, like your water heating too slowly (or not at all) might have less expensive solutions.

It’s always worth having it inspected to see if there are any big damages that will impact your water heater or water bill.


Will It Save You Money?

Replacements are costly, but a lot of repairs are even more so. The general rule of thumb is that if the repair will cost more than 50% of the cost of a new water heater, then opt to replace it. Paying that much to repair an older unit just isn’t worth it.


There are other factors you should consider too, like if the new part in a repair is covered under a warranty, and if the operating costs are worth a repair. Older units, though they may have years left on their lifespan, are not as efficient as modern water heaters. Sometimes the most cost-saving option is replacing your unit so you can save on utility bills in the future. Since your water heater makes up 14% of your total energy bill, it’s not an inefficiency you can afford to ignore.


Does it Fit Your Needs?

This is one of the biggest questions you can ask yourself. Does your current water heater fir your current and future needs? If the answer is yes and it’s still a newer unit, then a water heater repair should get the job done.


But if you have to wait 30-60 minutes between showers to get any hot water, you will want to replace it. Or, think of it this way: you have two young kids who don’t use a lot of hot water right now. However, in a few years, your 7-year-old is going to take longer showers and take up more hot water. Will there be enough for everyone in the household?


Thankfully, there is an expert team who is on your side. We at the BC Team are here to walk you through the entire process. If you need a water heater repair, we’re there for you with professional service and quality parts. If you’re unsure whether or not a repair will last, we’ll take a good look at your water heater and will provide you with an expert recommendation. And if you need a replacement, we can do that too.


Give us a call. We’re here to help you.


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