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When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

At some point, your water heater needs to go. But, of course, replacing it means busting out the big bucks. So you don’t want to replace your water heater if you don’t have to.

Well, we can empathize. But we strongly recommend that you replace your water heater soon if you notice any of these 4 things:

  • It’s 10 to 15 years old
  • It need repairs frequently
  • It delivers rust-colored hot water
  • It has sprung a leak

We’ll explain these issues in more detail and also give you some estimates for installing a new water heater.

It’s 10 to 15 years old

The typical water heater tank lasts 10 to 15 years. Though, some live much longer than that.

You want to err on replacing it earlier (10 years or less) if you didn’t get your water heater flushed annually or didn’t replace the anode rod every 4-5 years. These critical maintenance tasks are needed to extend the life of the water heater.

Why does a water heater need annual flushing?
Over time, sediment (loose minerals) forms at the bottom of the tank, covering the heating element and forcing the water heater to work longer and harder to heat the water. Over time, this overheating can weaken the steel tank, leading to a leak (we talk about leaks later).

You’ll know if your water heater is full of sediment if you periodically hear a strange popping noise coming from the tank.

What is an anode rod?
It’s a long rod that sacrifices itself to protect the water heater tank from rusting.

Learn more in this article: The #1 Killer of a Hot Water Heater

It needs repairs frequently

We’ve all been there with an old car: The radiator needs replacing. Then the belts go bad. Then the whole engine needs replacing! When all these repair happen back to back, you’re getting the message: You need a new car.

The same goes for getting a new water heater. If the pilot light keeps going out, the heating element needs repairing, and all you get is lukewarm water for a few minutes, then you need to consider replacing the water heater soon.

It delivers rust-colored hot water

If the hot water in your home is rust or brown colored, it could be a result of rust forming on the inside of your water heater tank—meaning it’s deteriorating. Yeah, talk about a clear sign you need a new water heater soon, right?

Well, not so fast.

This rusty water can also be caused by old rusty pipes (which is still a problem, but not one that’ll be fixed by replacing the water heater).

How can you tell when the water heater is at fault? If the rust-colored water comes out of ONLY the hot tap, it’s likely the water heater’s fault. If it comes from both hot and cold tap, the fault probably lies with the pipes.

It has sprung a leak

The only part of a water heater you can’t repair is the tank itself; once it’s sprung a leak and the pan underneath the tank starts filling up with water, that’s the end. You need a new water heater ASAP. A tank leak means the water heater could burst soon, causing costly water damage to your home.

And when we say “costly”, we mean it. According to disastersafety.org, “Water heater failures cost an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid.”

Related article: 3 Real-Life Water Heater Disasters and the Mistakes that Caused Them

The price to replace a water heater in Minneapolis-Saint Paul

By now you’re thinking, “Great, I think I may a need a new water heater...how much is this going to cost me?”

The answer is “it depends.” The replacement cost depends on the type of water heater:

  • A traditional tank style water heater + installation will usually run $700 to $2,000
  • A tankless water heater + installation will usually run $3,200 to $4,500

Learn what factors affect those price ranges in this article: How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Heater in Minneapolis-Saint Paul?

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