When to repair or replace your water heater

It’s one of those appliances we rarely think about…that is until it breaks down. Water heaters become a priority when the water well is not heated. But considering they are the third largest energy consumer in your house, you might want to pay closer attention. In today’s Angie’s List report, whether or not to repair or replace your water heater.

Bruce Flanagan never gave much thought to what was coming out of his faucet until he noticed the water temperature wasn’t quite the same.

“We had a tank water heater and it was beginning to get a small leak, but we also had some carbon monoxide problems with a draft with it,” Bruce says.

To avoid such problems experts recommend a good maintenance regimen.

Angie Hicks of Angie’s List says, “An easy maintenance tip for your water heater to ensure its best efficiency is to drain a quart of water from the water heater once every three months. This will help to reduce sediment from building up in your water heater and make sure they are getting maximum capacity out of your water heater.”

But even when a good maintenance job doesn’t do the trick how to know if replacing or repairing your water heater is the answer? Experts say it could be as simple as a number.

Mark Weilhammer is a Plumbing contractor. He says, “Anything more than about 8 or 9 about 10 years is a good life, after that you are going to start hearing it rumbling and carrying on and most people never maintain, they just put them in they sit for ten years, trouble free for 10 years and all of a sudden they start leaking and occasionally you’ll have one really cause you some grief.”

That grief can sometimes turn out to be expensive considering water heaters represent about 15% of your utility bills each month. So it’s important to evaluate the current options.

Hicks says homeowners could go with a tankless water heater or an electric water heater.

She says, “And depending on your bills and much you are willing spend on your water heater there are a lot of choices that can really make your house much more efficient.”

20130126-093525.jpgWhile storage units are the most popular type of water heating systems, tankless systems are more compact and offer energy savings by providing hot water only when it’s needed. Although it was more costly, about twice the price of an electric heater, Flanagan went the tankless route.

Bruce Flanagan is enjoying his new unit, saying, “When the kids and grandkids are here, we can have 5 or 6 people take a shower right in a row, and the water stays as warm at the end of the last shower as it is the first.”

Replacing a water heater can be cumbersome and involve many gallons of water. Make sure you know how it will be done. The units are very heavy and navigating small staircases can cause damage to your home. Check that the company you hire is insured to cover any damages.