Water heaters are built to last, but they don’t last forever. No matter how well you take care of your water heater, there will eventually come a time when you need to replace it. If your water heater is near the end of its life, you should replace it sooner rather than later. You don’t want to have your home suddenly be without hot water when the system breaks down entirely. If you’re not sure whether or not your water heater needs to be replaced, have a look at some of the warning signs below.
Consistently Low Output
Doing things like taking three-hour-long showers, or having multiple people using hot water at once, will eventually overwhelm the capacity of any water heater. You should take notice if your water heater starts to struggle to keep up with even normal levels of demand, though. As a water heater ages, the wear and tear on the system starts to cause it to gradually lose efficiency. This lost efficiency will eventually grow to the point that it starts to affect the ability of the system to provide enough hot water. Have a professional examine your water heater if it cannot provide enough hot water. It may be that you need to install a new one.
Water heaters tend not to develop problems as often as heating or air conditioning systems do. Still, they are not entirely immune to issues, either. You can reasonably expect to have to deal with repair issues with your water heater every few years. If you need to repair your water heater every year, or multiple times a year, that’s when you should become more concerned. If a water heater is breaking down that often, it typically means that it’s near the end of its lifespan. The combination of years of wear and tear and continuing demand are proving too much for the worn out parts of the system, which are failing in groups.
A water heater that has reached this stage of its life is not going to recover, even if you keep repairing it. You are essentially just replacing the entire system one part at a time after that point. You can do that if you want, but it will be much more cost effective in the long run to replace the system entirely than to keep paying to repair it.
Typically, you can expect to get around 10-15 years out of the average water heater. That will depend largely on individual circumstances, of course, but a system is unlikely to last longer than that. Once a water heater gets beyond the age of 15, it will begin to become more and more costly to keep up and running. Problems like the ones listed above will begin to pile up, and eventually the system will slide so far downhill that it will break down permanently. If your water heater is older than 15 years, it’s a good idea to have a professional examine it. You might be able to get a bit more use out of it, or you might be better off replacing it now.