When to Repair vs Replace Your Water Heater: How to Make the Right Choice

Monday, February 5th, 2024

When to Repair vs Replace Your Water Heater: How to Make the Right Choice

If your water heater no longer operates properly, then you’ll have to decide whether to schedule repairs or have it replaced entirely. However, there’s no true answer for the repair vs replace water heater debate — the best course of action for your system largely depends on your particular situation. To learn which option is best for your water heater, here’s an overview of some factors that can influence whether it’s better to repair or replace it.

Know the Age

When a water heater has lived past its lifespan, it is often more prudent to replace it completely rather than attempt to repair it. Most conventional water heaters — whether gas water heater or electric water heater — have a life expectancy of around 10 to 15 years. After this period, components like the heating elements or the tank itself may start to deteriorate, leading to inefficiency and increased energy costs. 

New models of water heaters, including tankless water heaters, are more energy efficient and can significantly reduce your utility bills. Additionally, modern water heaters come with improved technology and features like better insulation and temperature control, enhancing the hot water experience in your home. Therefore, replacing an old water heater can be a more cost-effective and sustainable choice in the long run.

Damaged Components

In cases where a water heater has damaged components, whether it’s better to repair or replace it largely depends on the severity of the damage. For instance, if you have a newer tankless water heater with a faulty heating element, repairing the specific component might be more cost-effective. 

However, for an older tank water heater with a compromised heat exchanger or a pilot light that frequently goes out, replacement might be a more viable option. The cost of repairing such crucial components in older units can often approach the cost of a new water heater, making replacement a more sensible investment. Moreover, newer systems come with upgraded features and better energy efficiency — potentially offering savings on future energy bills.

Poor Water Condition

When the water from your heater is rusty, smells bad, or exhibits other problems, it’s a clear indication that your system needs attention. This situation often arises due to sediment buildup or corrosion inside the tank. While hot water heater repair, which includes flushing out the sediment and replacing the anode rod — a component that collects corrosive elements — can sometimes resolve these issues, it may only be a temporary fix if the tank itself is corroded. 

In such cases, water heater replacement is more advisable. It’s worth noting that new water heaters are designed to handle hard water conditions better and are equipped with more durable tanks and sacrificial rods, which can prolong the unit’s life and maintain water quality.

Higher Water Bills

Higher water bills can be a sign that your water heater is losing efficiency — which might warrant a repair or a replacement, depending on the specific issue. Regular maintenance, such as checking the pressure relief valve and replacing faulty parts, can improve efficiency and extend the life of the heater. But, if your electric or gas water heater is significantly old and the high bills are due to inherent inefficiency or constant need for repairs, investing in a new, energy-efficient model might be the better choice.

A Major Leak

A major leak in a water heater is often a serious issue that typically necessitates water heater replacement. When water heater leaks occur, it’s usually because of internal corrosion or a ruptured tank — issues that cannot be effectively repaired. Replacing the entire system not only resolves the immediate problem of leaks but also prevents potential water damage to your home. 

Additionally, a new water heater installation ensures you have a unit that meets current safety and efficiency standards. Furthermore, new water heater models come with warranties, offering peace of mind and protection against future issues. Remember, while the upfront pricing of a new water heater might be higher, the long-term benefits and security it offers make it a worthwhile investment.

If You Need Water Heater Repair or Replacement, Reach Out To Comfort First

At Comfort First Heating & Cooling, we help residents of Joliet, IL, and the surrounding area with all their water heater needs. In addition to water heater repairs and replacements, we also offer other HVAC services, including AC installations and boiler repairs — among other trusted services. Reach out today to learn more and to schedule an appointment.

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