Your home’s water heater plays an important part in your everyday activities, from washing clothing and dishes to bathing in comfort. Getting to know your water heater can help you learn how to maintain it properly to improve its efficiency, as well as spot changes in function that signal the need for a professional plumbing assessment. Most water heaters can be expected to last 10-20 years, depending on the model—staying apprised of your water heater’s age and performance can also help you decide whether to repair or replace it if something goes wrong.
Water Heater Models
The two most popular types of water heaters available today are storage tank and tankless water heaters. Storage tank water heaters look like large, cylindrical drums, which store water at a high temperature until it is needed. These tanks are thick and insulated to reduce heat loss and maintain water temperature at all times. By contrast, tankless water heaters are typically smaller, square- or rectangular-shaped appliances. Tankless water heaters generate hot water only when you need it by heating the water as it flows through the system when you open a tap. As soon as you close the tap, the water heater shuts off and stops heating water until it is needed again. Tankless water heaters are sometimes called “on-demand” water heaters because they only function when hot water is needed.
Repair vs. Replacement
When you need water heater repairs, there are several factors you should consider before deciding to repair the issue or replace the water heater altogether. First, consider your water heater’s age—a water heater that is over ten years old will be much less efficient than a newer model, as well as much further along in its functional lifetime. Especially if the unit has not been regularly maintained, you can expect an older water heater to continue having trouble as the years continue to pass. Replacing it with a newer model will not only give you a clean slate in terms of maintenance and repairs, but also provide higher efficiency for long-term savings. However, if your water heater is less than ten years old and in good condition, it is generally more cost-effective to repair it and continue maintaining it to retain the appliance’s efficiency. It is also important to consider the scope and cost of a water heater repair, regardless of the age of the system. If your water heater needs repairs that are extensive and total at least half the cost of an all-new model, it may be in your best interests to replace rather than repair the unit. Storage water heaters that have sprung a leak in the main tank always need to be replaced, as patching the tank is not an effective repair option.
Do you have questions or concerns about your home’s water heater? Our Montgomery County plumbing experts have all the information you need to maintain or replace your water heater for better performance and lower monthly bills. You can take a look at our plumbing and water heater services when you visit us on the web, where you can also reach a professional for personalized advice or to schedule an appointment. If you’d like to learn more about plumbing function and repair, you can take a look through our blog archives to find more helpful articles.