As a first-time homeowner, many of the challenges that come with owning a home can be all new and sometimes confusing. If you've been wondering about the condition of your hot water heater or noticing some problems, it can be hard to know whether you should just have it repaired or if it needs to be replaced. Here are a few things to consider to help you make that determination.
How Old Is The Unit?
Like any other household appliance, water heaters have a definitive lifespan. While the actual lifespan will vary based on the type of water heater you have, it can be expected to last anywhere from six to fifteen years. If you don't know how old the water heater is or you know it's approaching the end of its lifespan, it's better to consider replacement than to try to keep putting money into repairs. Eventually, the water heater will fail, and it could leave you with significant water damage that could be even more costly than the replacement itself.
If the water heater is fairly new, you may be able to just have it repaired. In that case, it's also a good time to start taking steps to prolong its life. Replace the anode rod every year to minimize any mineral buildup in the tank, have it flushed once a year, and work with a water heater technician to have it inspected and otherwise maintained regularly as well.
What Condition Is The Unit In?
Regardless of its age, the overall condition of the water heater is also important. If it's damaged, corroded, or leaking, that's a sure sign that you need to replace it. The two most common reasons for this type of damage to a water heater are spent anode rods and faulty pressure relief valves. If the anode rod isn't replaced on a regular basis, it won't be able to absorb the minerals from the water. That mineral accumulation can cause clogs, corrosion, and other damage.
Since the pressure relief valve is essential to maintaining the proper pressure level in the tank, it's important that it is kept in good working condition. If it's not working properly, you could end up with excess pressure buildup in the system that can lead to a burst tank. Not only is this devastating to the tank, it can lead to water damage in your home. If the pressure relief valve fails and damages the tank, you'll need to replace the entire unit. You can minimize the risk of this by testing the valve regularly to be sure that it's functioning properly. To test it, lift up on the valve and let it drop back into place. If you don't see any water drip from the valve or you don't hear water flow back into the pipe beneath it, that means it's not functioning as intended.
What Kind Of Budget Do You Have?
Another thing to consider is what your budget looks like. If you don't have the money to invest in a brand new unit, it's often more cost-effective to repair the water heater. However, if you have the budget to replace it and it seems that the unit is nearing the end of its usable life, you might find a greater return by buying a new one. New hot water heaters are often more energy efficient and will reduce your home energy costs over time, saving you in the long run beyond the initial outlay for the unit and installation.
Talk with a local hot water heater installation technician today about your concerns with your home's hot water heater. He or she can help you determine if repair or replacement is best.