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When to Replace Your Water Heater

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your water heater until it stops working. And when it does stop working, it can be a huge inconvenience. Not to mention, a broken water heater can lead to extensive damage to your home. So, when is the right time to replace your water heater? In this blog post, we will discuss when to replace your water heater and what your options are.

How Long Do Hot Water Heaters Last?

The lifespan of a water heater depends on several factors, such as the type of water heater, the quality of the unit, how well it’s been maintained, and the water conditions in your area. On average, most hot water heaters last between 8 and 12 years. However, some units, like tankless water heaters, can last anywhere from 15 to  25 years or more with proper maintenance.

Read next: How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

How Do you Know Your Hot Water Heater Needs Replacement?

If your water heater is more than eight years old, it’s probably time to start thinking about a water heater replacement. However, age is not the only factor to consider when deciding whether or not to replace it. It’s important to keep an eye out for signs that your water heater is no longer functioning such as:

  • The water heater is leaking
  • You don’t have enough hot water
  • Hot water from your tap is rusty, cloudy, or sandy
  • There are strange noises coming from the unit

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to call in a professional to evaluate what the issues are and determine the next steps. Do your research early to find a water heater that best fits your household needs.

Read next: 10 Noticeable Signs Your Water Heater is Going Bad 

How to Tell the Age of a Water Heater?

Check the serial number on your water heater. Most water heater manufacturers put the heater age in the serial number. Often, the first four digits of the serial number are the year it was manufactured. With the brand name of the water heater and the serial number, you should be able to find the coding for your particular hot water tank system. Having a Jacobs technician come out for an evaluation and address needed repairs will give you more information about your existing water heater and keep a small problem from becoming a big one. 

How Often Should I Have Water Heater Maintenance?

You should maintain and flush your conventional tank water heater at least once per year. This will help to remove any sediment that has built up in the tank over time. If you have a gas water heater, you will also want to check the anode rod annually and replace it if necessary. The sacrificial anode rod protects the tank from corrosion, so it is important to keep it in good working order.

If your home has hard water, you may need to flush your water heater more often than once per year. Hard water contains minerals that can build up in the tank and cause problems with your hot water heater. A qualified technician can evaluate your system and tell you how often you should maintain and flush your particular model of water heater.

Should I Repair or Replace My Hot Water Heater?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors such as the cost of the repairs, the age of the unit, and the type of water.  If you have a gas water heater, repairs are usually less expensive than electric models.

On the other hand, if your unit is more than eight years old, it may be more cost-effective to replace it. Another factor to consider is the type of water in your area. If you live in an area with hard water, your water heater will likely not last as long as it would in an area with soft water.

If you’re unsure whether to repair or replace your water heater, the best course of action is to consult a professional. A Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning consultant will be able to assess your situation and give you the best recommendation for your home.

Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Hot Water Heater

According to the Department of Energy, the average household uses 64 gallons of water every day and spends about $400 to $600 annually heating their water. With hot water heating being the second largest household expense it is important to find the right replacement for your budget and household.

As you shop for a new hot water heater consider the following:

Fuel type and availability –  Often the decision of a gas vs electric water heater comes down to the power you already have access to in your home. Most homes have electricity but not all homes have gas. If you want to install a gas water heater you will need to factor in the cost of running a gas line.

Size and recovery rate – first-hour rating is calculated to determine the recovery rate of a water heater and how many gallons of hot water it can generate. This helps determine the needs of your household.

Energy efficiency –  Some types of water heaters are much more energy-efficient than others. If you’re looking to save money on your utility bills, then an Energy Star-qualified model might be the way to go.

Cost – Depending on your budget, the cost of the unit will be a factor in your decision. It is also important to look at the operating costs and compare models.

What Are My Replacement Options?

There are two main types of water heaters that work in a majority of homes:

  • Tankless water heater
  • Conventional tank water heater

Each type of water heater has its own set of pros and cons and there are gas or electric powered options for each. 

Tankless Water Heater vs Conventional Water Heater

There are two main types of water heaters that most households choose from – conventional tank water heaters and tankless. There are pros and cons to each.

Tank Water Heaters

Conventional water heaters have been around for many years. They are reliable and relatively inexpensive to purchase. They work by heating water in a tank and then circulating the hot water throughout your home as needed. As water is used the hot water heater automatically refills with cold water and starts the process all over again. Most homes have a conventional tank hot water heater that is powered by gas or electricity. They come in sizes ranging from 20 to 80 gallons.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters or on-demand water heaters are a newer technology. They have a few advantages over conventional water heaters which use a tank to hold and heat water. Tankless water heaters:

  • are more energy-efficient because they only heat water when you need it
  • take up less space because they don’t have a storage tank
  • have a longer lifespan than conventional water heaters

The main downside of tankless water heaters is that they can be more expensive to install than conventional water heaters. They also can be overwhelmed if you place a high demand for hot water on them. Smaller tankless water heaters will not be able to keep up with the demands of a large household and will result in lukewarm water. A Jacobs consultant can ensure that you have the right size for your household.

Gas vs Electric Water Heaters: Which is Best?

When it comes to water heaters, you have two main fuel types to choose from: gas and electric.  Both gas and electric water heaters have their pros and cons that you should take into consideration when making your decision.

Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters are typically more energy-efficient than electric models. They also tend to recover hot water faster, so if you have a large household that uses a lot of hot water, a gas model may be the best option. On the downside, gas water heaters can produce carbon monoxide and require proper ventilation, so they may not be ideal for all homes.

Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters are less expensive to install than gas models and don’t produce carbon monoxide. Electricity is also available in most homes, reducing the need to add a gas line, propane tank, or install a vent. Tankless water heaters have typically been mostly gas-powered, but recent technology has developed high-efficiency electric tankless models that deliver hot water on demand and provide potential energy savings.

Cost of Replacing a Hot Water Heater

The cost to replace a hot water heater will vary depending on the type of water heater you choose and the size you need. The average cost to install a gas water heater is $2,400 to $4,000, while the average cost to install an electric water heater is $2,000 to $2,800. If you’re considering a tankless water heater, the average cost to install is $6,300 to $7,500.

Remember, these are just averages and your actual costs will vary depending on your location, the type of home you have, and other factors. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a professional before making any big decisions about your home.

Read next: How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Water Heater?

Water Heater Installation Process

Depending on what kind of new water heater you are installing, the process can be complicated. If you are converting to a gas water heater, for example, you will need to install a vent pipe and run a gas line. Gas water heaters need to be installed by a professional because they require special venting which is critical for safety and health.

A Jacobs consultant will discuss with you the three main factors to determine which water heater will work best for your home and family.

  • Space available for the new water heater
  • Household water needs
  • Budget

Can I Install a New Water Heater Myself?

Even if you are replacing an old water heater with a new one of the same type, the process can be challenging. There are often local permits needed and plumbing codes that have to be followed or it could lead to fines or water damage to your home. Although it may be tempting to do it yourself, it is best to have a professional perform your water heater installation. to install your new water heater. You will save both time and money by having it installed right the first time.

Removal and Disposal of Old Water Heater

If you are replacing an old water heater with a new one, the first step is to remove the old unit and properly dispose of it. This can be tricky, as conventional tank water heaters are large and heavy. If you have a natural gas water heater, you will also need to disconnect the gas line before removal. Once the unit is out, take it to your local recycling center or hazardous waste disposal facility.

The best way to dispose of your old water heater is to have a professional install your new one and let them take care of it. After installing your new hot water heater, Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning will take care of the removal and disposal of your old water heater so you don’t have to think about it.

Water Heater Inspection and Replacement Services in Portland

There are many factors that go into deciding when to replace your water heater and Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts are here to guide you. We carry a variety of hot water heaters so that your home or business has the best and most efficient water heaters around.

Avoid extra costs and fewer repairs by scheduling a maintenance check for your existing water heating system before issues arise.  No matter what you need, we’re always just a phone call away.

Whether you are in the market for a new water heater or simply have questions about your current one, Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help. We’ve been servicing the Portland area for over 70 years and our experience shows in the quality of our work. Give us a call today!

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.