Should My Water Heater be Repaired or Replaced?

By Wendy Carpenter-Israel

April 5, 2012

Should my Water Heater be Repaired or Replaced?

Water heaters are known for being a trouble-free household appliance until they start to leak. They require little maintenance and have few replacement parts. Their design is so simple that they are easy to repair or replace. It is rare that a home or condo owner calls a plumber to ask them to replace a working water heater. So the question becomes when a problem does arise should a homeowner repair or replace?

Photo by Minerva Studio/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Minerva Studio/iStock / Getty Images

1. Non-Leak Problems – There are occasions when a water heater will have problems related the elements, thermostats and gas valves. All of these are easy to replace and probably should be done by a professional. Make sure to check if the water heater is under warranty. The repair may be covered and it could save you a few dollars.

2. Repair or Replace – This all depends on the age and the warranty of the water heater. Most heaters have a warranty for 5, 7 or 10 years. The average lifespan of a tank is directly related to the quality of the water in the area. Most warranties are for 7 years. If the warranty is expired and the repair costs a lot of money, professionals recommend getting the water heater replaced. However, if the water quality in your area is excellent and the average lifespan of a water heater is 20 years, then you might want to consider repairing the unit.

3. Option to Replace with a Tankless Water Heater – This kind of water heater
heats water at the time the hot water is needed rather than storing heated water in a tank. It is environmentally friendly and helps save money by lowering energy bills. Tankless water heaters can be electric or gas-fired. However, it is important to find out if this kind of heater is compatible with your house. For example, can your circuits handle the new heater’s demand if you decide to go with an electric heater? Also, it is important to understand the expense of the initial installation. You may save money in the long run, but for many homeowners, this kind of water heater is a budget buster. Unfortunately, the tankless models available today do not supply the amount of hot water that most Americans are used to. They make a limited amount of water per minute so two major uses of hot water cannot happen at the same time.

4. GrandHall’s Eternal Hybrid Water Heater – Recommended by the thisoldhouse.com, this hybrid water heater was released in 2007. It is a combination of the old and the new water heaters. It is said to provide a constant supply of hot water via a turbo heat exchanger, but it also has a tank to maintain water pressure and perfect hot water temperature.

6. Replace with Traditional More Efficient Water Heater – If you decide not to replace with a new tankless or hybrid water heater, then it is important to investigate which new efficient water heater is best for your needs. Mrwaterheater.com has a perfectly clear and helpful selection guide on their website for you to review.