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When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

Cold shower

You rely on hot water every day to wash your dishes, your clothes, and…well, yourself. That makes your water heater an unsung hero in your home – an appliance you take for granted until one morning when an unexpected cold shower shocks you back into a reality without it.

Invigorating? Perhaps. Fun? Not so much.

The average traditional water heater (one with a tank) lasts about 10 years or so* (a tankless model can last as much as 20 years, since it doesn’t have to deal with storing corrosive water); once you start getting past the decade mark, the law of diminishing returns kicks in on water heater repairs, and upgrading to a new high efficiency model starts making more sense.

Here are some other signs your water heater needs to be replaced:

  1. Poor performance. We already mentioned unplanned cold showers, but an uptick in your energy bills could also be a sign that your water heater is on its way out.
  2. Leaks. A puddle under your water tank is never a good sign. Turn off your water supply and call a plumber immediately if you see one.
  3. Rust. If there’s rusty water in your tank, it’s a good bet your water heater is corroding from the inside-out – a problem that could lead to a costly tank failure in the not-too-distant future.
  4. Signs of hard water. Stains on your flatware, dull clothing and itchy skin are common signs of hard water (water that contains calcium, magnesium, and other minerals). This highly mineralized water will eventually cause a buildup of lime in your tank, which can reduce efficiency and shorten the lifespan of your water heater.
  5. Unusual sounds. If you hear rumbling or sizzling noises in your storage tank, it’s not a poltergeist – it’s sediment build-up. If you don’t address the problem, it will eventually shorten the lifespan of your water heater.

Don’t wait for an unexpected cold shower – or an unplanned indoor pool in your basement – to replace your old water heater. Contact Needham today to learn about water heater options that meet your family’s needs and your budget!

* Want to know how old your heater is? Here’s a trick: look for the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. The first letter in the serial number corresponds to its month of production; the first two numbers its year of production. For example, in the serial number D082738598, “D”, the fourth letter in the alphabet, corresponds to April, the fourth month. The number “08” represents the year. The water heater was produced in June 2008.