A water heater failure is a major inconvenience. Hot water is a necessity in nearly every household. Whether your water takes too long to heat, runs out too quickly, is lukewarm or ice-cold, your water heater isn’t functioning as it should.
Can it be repaired, or is it time for a replacement? Our water heater experts at American Plumbing Service in Lake Elsinore can help you decide. Here are some key factors to keep in mind.
Check the thermostat
If your water is running cooler than normal, or you run out of hot water quickly, the first step is to check the thermostat setting on the water heater. It’s possible that it was bumped or never set correctly in the first place. A temperature setting between 120℉ and 140℉ is ideal. Be aware that it will take some time for the water in the tank to come up to temperature. Allow about an hour before testing the water temperature at the faucet. Also, make sure the failure isn’t due to an electrical problem such as a blown fuse or tripped breaker.
The life expectancy of your water heater will depend on its location, quality of installation, and level of use. You should expect to get 8-12 years out of your unit. Regular maintenance and flushing will extend the life of your water heater. However, if it’s more than 10 years old, or hasn’t been properly and regularly maintained, you should replace it rather than pay for repairs. Consider upgrading to a tankless water heater, which boasts almost double the lifespan of traditional water heaters and is more energy-efficient.
If you’ve noticed that you have to turn the shower dial further and further to get the same temperature, your water heater has become less efficient and is working harder and harder, costing you more while giving you less. Most hot water heaters have a sticker on the side estimating the annual cost of operation. This will give you a baseline to help determine if your water heater has lost efficiency.
Before considering whether to repair or replace your water heater, determine whether or not it meets your needs. If your family has grown, you may need a larger tank to accommodate all the extra laundry and showers. Conversely, if your household is small, you may be wasting money by heating unnecessary amounts of water. Determining the volume and availability of hot water that is suitable for your needs can help you decide whether to repair, replace, or upgrade.
The type of damage will also affect whether to repair or replace. What is causing the lack of hot water? Is your water lukewarm or ice-cold? It’s always best to consult a technician who can thoroughly inspect your water heater and determine the actual cause. If the water heater is leaking, it probably can’t be repaired. Other problems, such as a failed heating element or faulty pressure release valve, can typically be repaired.
Knocking, clanging, or hissing noises may indicate that sediment has accumulated inside the tank, making it difficult to run effectively and efficiently. It is recommended to have your water heater drained and flushed at least once a year to keep sediment from building up. If you don’t notice an immediate difference, your unit may be near the end of its life.
Cost is often a deciding factor in the repair-or-replace debate. A good rule of thumb is that if the repair is going to cost more than 50% of the cost of a replacement, it isn’t worth it. But the up-front cost isn’t the only consideration. How much longer do you expect the unit to last? What is the cost of operation of your current unit compared to a replacement? What is the cost of a new unit, plus any additional installation costs? What about the long-term energy savings from a tankless water heater? While it can be a hassle to upgrade, it’s even more inconvenient to keep throwing money at a water heater that is past its prime.
Consult an experienced Lake Elsinore water heater professional
Whether you need a simple repair or a new water heater altogether, American Plumbing Service has an expert team ready to assist. Call us today at 951-750-0086 or book an appointment online.