5 Signs You Need a New Water Heater

Water heaters don’t last forever.

And the worst part? If you push a water heater past the average lifespan, there’s a very good chance that it could burst a leak and cost you thousands of dollars in water damage.

That’s why smart homeowners preemptively replace their water heater when they start to see signs that it’s on its way out.

So what are these “signs”? Well, 5 common signs that you need a new water heater include:

  1. It’s over 10 years old
  2. Only the hot water is brown
  3. The water heater is leaking
  4. The water heater is making knocking/popping noises
  5. You start seeing frequent repairs

Let’s take a closer look at these signs…

Already know you need to replace your water heater? Just contact us— we’ll give you a fair quote.

Sign #1: Your water heater is over 10 years old

According to Energy.gov, tank water heaters typically last 10-15 years. So if your water heater has already hit its 10th birthday, you can expect to start seeing some of the trouble signs below.

Keep in mind that if your household uses a lot of hot water and if you haven’t kept the unit well-maintained, your water heater could have a much shorter lifespan than 10 years.

Have a tankless water heater? Good news. Tankless water heaters typically last at least 20 years.

Sign #2: Only the hot water is brown

If you start to see brown, rusty water when you turn on the hot water, you likely have a water heater that’s corroding from the inside.

And once a water heater starts rusting, it’s not long before it will burst a leak and cause damage to your home. Usually, when a water heater is corroding, you’ll notice a metallic taste and smell to the hot water along with visible signs of rust.

But keep this in mind:Rust in your hot water doesn’t always mean a bad water heater.

You see, water heaters have sacrificial anode rods that are designed to attract all the corrosive elements in the water. Its sole purpose is to “sacrifice” itself so that the lining of your water heater doesn’t corrode. But because these rods sacrifice themselves, they corrode and need to be replaced frequently. Which means that rust you see in the hot water might just be from a corroding anode rod.

So how do you know if rusty hot water is due to an anode rod or a failing water heater?

Well, the only way to know for sure is to have a professional inspect the water heater. But typically, if your water heater is relatively young and healthy and you just started seeing rust in your hot water, you most likely just need to replace your anode rod— not the entire water heater.

Sign #3: Your water heater is leaking

If the water heater tank itself is leaking, you have a serious problem because your tank could potentially burst at any moment.

So if you’ve determined that the tank has a leak (and it’s not just a loose fitting or bad drain valve) do this:

  1. Turn off the water heater
  2. Shut off the cold water valve feeding the tank
  3. Call a professional

You most likely DON’T need to replace your water heater (but should have a professional repair the leaks) if you see leaking from the following places:

  • Cold water valve
  • Pipe connections (hot and cold water inlets)
  • TPR valve
  • Expansion tank
  • Drain valve

Sign #4: Your water heater is making knocking noises

If your water heater is making knocking/popping noises, it’s likely due to sediment buildup that’s coating the bottom of your water heater.

You see, over time, sediment in the water (such as calcium and magnesium particles) settle to the bottom of the water heater. As that layer of sediment builds, it creates a barrier between the heating elements and the water which can cause overheating. And overheating the water weakens the tank, eventually causing it to spring a leak or burst.

The good news is that if you just started hearing these noises, you might be able to save the tank by having a professional flush the water heater. This removes the layer of sediment at the bottom of the tank. But if the sediment has been there for quite some time, it’s likely that damage has already been done.

Sign #5: You start seeing frequent repairs

When your water heater is on its way out, it’s likely not going to go quietly. Instead, you’ll find yourself calling in a professional more and more frequently for water heater repairs.

So if you have an older water heater and you’ve had it repaired more than once in a 6-month span, you likely need to replace your water heater.

Need a water heater replacement? Ask a Boise plumber for a quote

If you see these trouble signs, don’t wait until you’re dealing with a burst water heater.

Contact us and we can inspect your current system and, if necessary, provide a quote for a water heater replacement.

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