11 Signs Your Water Heater Needs Replacement

February 1, 2024

Are you wondering whether it’s time to replace the water heater in your Michigan home? If so, there are several signs you can look for that indicate it’s a good idea to replace the unit.

1. The Water Heater Is Old

You can buy water heaters in a variety of styles, such as heat pumps, storage tanks and tankless models. The average lifespan of a water heater with a storage tank is around 10 to 15 years. Tankless heaters usually last up to 20 years. An average heat pump water heater lasts 13 to 15 years. To avoid possible breakdowns, leaks and inefficiencies, it is essential to replace a water heater when its anticipated lifetime is up. Aging units are more likely to experience corrosion, silt accumulation and decreased performance, all of which contribute to higher energy expenses.

2. The Water Heater Leaks

The most common causes of leaks in water heaters with storage tanks are corrosion, silt accumulation and pressure problems. This is because the tank becomes vulnerable to leaks as a result of the corrosion and because the silt damages the heating element. Changes in pressure put stress on the tank as well, which can lead to leaks. Tankless water heaters develop leaks due to broken pressure release valves, unsecured connections and malfunctioning internal components. Any hint of structural deterioration or inefficiency, such as a leak, can lead to costly water damage repairs. Recurring leaks, whether from storage tanks or tankless systems, should serve as a strong reminder to replace the water heater as soon as possible. This will help avoid flooding and water damage and ensure that there is a consistent supply of hot water.

3. You See Rust, Corrosion or Cracks

Looking for cracks, rust and corrosion on the outside of the tank can help you determine whether to replace the unit. Verify the area around the tank’s surface, connectors and pressure release valve. Rust, particularly at the joints and around seams, is a sign of corrosion. Be wary of any obvious structural problems or cracks. If you notice any, it indicates the possibility of leaks and diminished structural strength. Water damage, inefficiency and safety concerns might result from these problems; therefore, it’s best to replace the water heater.

4. The Water Heater Is Noisy

While certain sounds are quite typical for water heaters, some may indicate a serious problem. Typical noises include a low-volume hum while running and the rare popping sound caused by debris. But if you hear hissing or whistling, it might be a sign of a pressure issue, and if you hear pounding or thumping, it could be sediment accumulation. An indicator of overheating is a popping sound. Signs of possible tank problems include gurgling or bubbling sounds. Persistently loud sounds should raise red flags since they might be signs of a malfunction or a leak. Seek expert help if you hear any strange or persistent noises or if you experience any abrupt changes. It may be best to replace the unit right away.

5. Your Home Has Rusty Water

Problems with a water heater might be the cause of rusty water. The most common reason for this is when rust gets into the water supply due to corrosion in the tank or heating element. Sediment accumulation accelerates the corrosion, which results in rusty water. This rust ruins the quality of water and wreaks havoc on plumbing fittings. Rusty water that won’t go away is an indication that parts are breaking down. To avoid leaks or failures, keep the water clean and stop corrosion in its tracks, it’s best to replace the water heater.

6. Lots of Sediment Buildup

As time passes, sediment builds up in a water heater and eventually sinks to the bottom of the tank. The silt, made up of minerals and detritus, acts as an insulator for the heating element, leading to a decrease in efficiency and an increase in corrosion. A number of factors, including water hardness and consumption habits, influence the rate of silt accumulation. It’s usually best to get a new water heater if the problem of sediment accumulation persists despite your best flushing efforts.

7. You Keep Experiencing Pilot Light Issues

An incorrect thermocouple, a blocked pilot orifice or an issue with the gas supply are common reasons for pilot light issues. A faulty thermocouple or normal wear and tear further compromise a pilot light’s ability to function properly. More serious problems may be at play if the pilot light continually goes out or has trouble staying lit. Problems with the pilot light that don’t go away indicate possible safety issues, including gas leaks or incorrect combustion. If problems persist after repairs, it’s a good sign that the water heater is getting close to its lifetime expiration.

8. Water Takes Too Long to Heat

There are several potential causes of sluggish water heating in a water heater, including sediment accumulation, a broken thermostat or a broken heating element. Wear and tear on moving parts reduces their efficiency, making it impossible for them to function as they should. A water heater that takes a long time to heat water can cause major inconveniences in your everyday life. If you want better energy efficiency and a faster hot water supply, it’s probably best to replace the unit.

9. There’s Rust on the Heating Element

Rust on a water heater’s heating element is usually a sign of corrosion. Hard water, sediment accumulation and wear and tear can all accelerate the corrosion, which lowers the heating element’s efficiency. This means the unit will use more energy, skyrocketing your energy bills, and it might even leak. If the heating element’s rust problem persists, it will affect the home’s water quality and the unit’s general function. Severe rust problems are a strong indicator that you should go ahead and replace the water heater.

10. The Water Heater Smells Funny

Different odors released by water heaters indicate different problems. It’s usual for heating components to release a burning smell when first turned on, but if the scent persists after a while, it’s time to look into it. You should have a plumber cleanse the tank and replace the anode if you notice an odor similar to rotten eggs; this is a sign of an interaction with sulfur bacteria. A smell of metal or electricity can indicate faulty wiring or an impending component failure. Get a professional to take a look at your water heater if you notice any strange odors that won’t go away, particularly if the smells indicate gas or electrical issues.

11. You Can See Visible Scaling

Visible scaling on a water heater refers to mineral deposits accumulating on the heating elements or tank surface. It shows up as deposits that are crusty and chalky. Scaling reduces the unit’s efficiency and can lead to overheating by blocking heat transmission. When components fail due to persistent scaling, it’s a sign of hard water problems. Investing in a new unit assures top-notch performance and energy efficiency.

C & C Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help you decide whether your Roseville, MI, home needs a new water heater. We also help homeowners with furnace installations, ac installations, duct cleaning, ductless services and indoor air quality. To schedule a water heater inspection, contact C & C Heating & Air Conditioning today.

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