What are the signs your water heater needs to be replaced?

Most homeowners don’t give their water heater that much thought—until something goes wrong. However, most water heaters exhibit warning signs of needing to be replaced long before a major leak or tank burst occurs. In this article, we’ll review several of the signs your water heater needs to be replaced, from old age to visible tank damage.

Your water heater is more than a decade old

Most standard water heaters need to be replaced after 10-12 years of serving your home. With some preventative maintenance—such as flushing the water heater annually and replacing the anode rod midway through the lifespan of the system—your water heater may live longer than that. But, generally speaking, after a decade, you should at least be prepared for the potential of replacing your water heater.

But, what should you be on the lookout for when it comes to your water heater? Here are just a few signs that it might need to be replaced—and soon.

Your home isn’t getting enough hot water

As water heaters age, mineral scaling typically builds up at the bottom of the tank, covering the heating element. For homeowners who do not annually flush their system, this problem often occurs earlier than for homeowners who care for the water heater tank. This results in the water not being heated as efficiently or as effectively as it once was. The end result is a water heater that costs more to operate but provides your home with less hot water than ever before.

The first sign of this occurring, typically, is your home starting to run out of hot water on busy mornings when everyone is showering and getting ready for the day. If you have an older water heater when this starts to happen, it’s a good sign you need to call the plumbers at Reimer out to take a look at your system.

Your water heater is no longer working efficiently

Another sign that your water heater is nearing the end of its life are higher-than-usual energy bills. Whether you have a gas or electric water heater, keep an eye on how much you’re spending on energy every single month. As water heaters experience scale buildup, they also typically become less efficient.

You notice cracks or leaks in the tank

The sacrificial anode rod in your home’s water heater is designed to attract corrosion away from the tank walls, protecting them from rust and scale damage. However, after the anode rod has been spent, that corrosion will go after the tank itself. Your water heater is pressurized, so the first sign that something is wrong will typically manifest in the form of small cracks in the exterior shell. These form as the water heater tank expands slightly due to the pressure. Significant enough cracks will also allow some degree of water to escape, which will appear as water on the ground or in the drainage basin of the water heater.

A water heater that is beginning to show signs of stress damage is potentially a disaster waiting to happen. Eventually, if the tank walls weaken enough, they’ll give way, leading to a tank burst as water is allowed to escape from inside the tank. A water heater tank burst is a common cause of flooded garages and homes here in Buffalo and Western New York, which is why it’s important to:

  • Regularly test the pressure-relief valve of your water heater to ensure it’s functioning and preventing excessive water pressure from building inside the tank.
  • Replace a water heater as soon as it shows signs of stress damage or cracks.

Call Reimer for your water heater service and replacement needs here in Buffalo and Western New York

If you’ve observed any of the signs listed above with your older water heater, you need to contact us and have one of our plumbers out to inspect your tank. We’re your local water heater repair, maintenance, and replacement specialists, and our plumbers can give you an honest recommendation on whether or not it’s time to replace your water heater tank, or if the system just needs to be repaired.