If your hot water heater goes out, you’re faced with more than just a cold shower. Your dishwasher and washing machine are virtually useless without one of the most important plumbing assets in your home working properly.
A broken water heater needs immediate attention, especially in the winter. If your unit is only a few years old, basic repairs may keep it running. But if you have a standard convection water heater that’s near the end of its 10–13 year lifespan, you may need to replace it.
Five warning signs
No water heater lasts forever. Metal tank water heaters expand and contract in extreme temperatures, especially if the tank is located in an uninsulated space like an unheated basement or garage. The amount of minerals in your water can also affect your tank’s lifespan.
Being aware of warning signs with your tank can help you avoid a sudden shutdown. Here are five things to watch for that could signal that your hot water heater needs professional repairs or replacement:
- Puddling water, drips or leaks beneath the hot water heater
- A yellow, not blue, flame in a gas water heater
- Running water temperature that doesn’t match what the water heater is set at, whether too hot or too cold
- Rust coming out of your faucet or water and leaving a rust stain in the sink and tub
- Bending or cracking in the heater tank
Can you replace your own water heater?
Even if you’re comfortable making home improvements, replacing a hot water heater can entail more work than you think. As water heaters typically last for more than a decade, building codes in your area may change, requiring updates to a number of accompanying parts, such as:
- Supply pipes
- Mount for water heater
- Style or size of venting system
- Water heater drain pan
Hiring a trusted professional to install your tank ensures the new unit will work properly and last for years to come.