When should I replace my water heater?
August 25, 2015

So, you’re wondering when to replace your water heater?

We don’t blame you for wanting to find out. Waiting too long to replace it could result in costly water damage to your home. According to disastersafety.org, “Water heater failures cost an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid.”

Anyway, you should consider replacing your water heater if it’s about 6-12+ years old and when you start running out of hot water faster.

However, age and lack of hot water aren’t everything. You could have a 15-year-old water heater that works just fine and wouldn’t need replacing.

So here’s a solid rule to follow: You should replace the water heater if the tank is deteriorating.

How will you know if that’s happening? Look for these 2 signs.

Sign 1) Your hot water is rusty colored

As a tank deteriorates and rusts, the rust gets into your hot water, causing it to have a funky brown color.

Now, keep in mind, this discoloration could be caused by something else like:

  • Corroded galvanized iron plumbing (which is still bad, but replacing the water heater won’t help)
  • Issues with the public water supply

So how do we know if the water heater is the source of the rusty color?

Simple: Just turn on a cold water tap. Is it discolored, too? If so, then the water heater isn’t the issue. If it’s clear, then the water heater is the issue and may need replacing soon. Call a plumber to get their opinion.

Sign 2) The water heater tank is leaking

If the water heater tank is leaking, that’s a clear sign that it’s deteriorating and therefore you need a new water heater ASAP.

According to disastersafety.org, “69% of all water heater failures result from a slow leak or a sudden burst.”

Now, we want to clarify something: There are certain water heater leaks that can be repaired.

For example, if the leak is at the seal around the water heater’s drain spigot or the cold water intake, a plumber can fix that no problem.



A water heater drain spigot.



A water heater’s water spigot.

But, again, if the tank itself is leaking then you need a new water heater.

How to keep your water heater maintained

Let’s say your water heater is 12 years old, but does not show any of the signs of the tank going bad. Great! You should do all you can to keep it maintained so you can get a few more years out of it.

Your most important task: drain and flush the tank at least once a year. This prevents sediment build up from covering the heating element and deteriorating the tank.

You can either flush/drain it yourself or call a plumber for water heater maintenance.

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Pippin Brothers is the Lawton-area’s most trusted heating, air conditioning and plumbing company. We’ve been serving Oklahoma since 1978. Contact us for more information.