Signs You Need Water Heater Maintenance and/or a Replacement
May 04, 2023
Your water heater may be something you pass by in the garage or basement without giving it a second thought. But in reality, your water heater has a big impact on the comfort of everyday living—meaning it’s vital to take care of it if you want to maximize its life.
An efficient, well-maintained water heater will help you avoid problems like freezing pipes, a leaking water heater, a lack of hot water in the home, and more.
If you have questions about water heater maintenance and how to improve the efficiency of your unit, you’re in the right place. We’ll cover the following:
- How often should a water heater be serviced?
- What are some tips for water heater maintenance?
- What are some signs you need water heater maintenance?
- How often should you replace your water heater?
How Often Should a Water Heater Be Serviced?
How often you should get water heater maintenance done depends on several factors, such as how old the water heater is, how it was installed, and where it is installed. Older or poorly installed water heaters may require more maintenance than newer water heaters.
It’s best to have your water heater inspected at least once a year to ensure the system lasts as long as possible. During their annual inspection, a water heater professional will clean the heater, check for damage, and flush the system to get rid of built-up sediment. (If ignored, this sediment could clog the system and cause bigger problems in the future.)
Water Heater Maintenance Checklist
Regular maintenance will prolong the life of your water heater and ensure you always have plenty of hot water for everyday use. Here are some important checklist items that will keep your water heater working well for as long as possible:
- Flush the water heater every six months.
- Switch the water heater to the vacation setting when leaving town.
- Check for water heater leaks regularly.
- Test the temperature release valve at least once a year.
- Set the water heater to 120 degrees.
- Insulate the pipes and heater if you have an older water heater.
Signs You Need Water Heater Maintenance
Of course, some water heaters may require maintenance outside of the yearly inspection. A broken water heater could cause damage to your home by leaking or even exploding, so it’s essential to know the signs that something may be wrong with your water heater.
Here are some key signals to look out for when considering water heater maintenance.
1. Leaking Water
Leaking water is one of the most obvious telltale signs it’s time for water heater maintenance. Keep in mind that some leaks will be harder to spot, so it’s wise to do a quick inspection of your water heater every month to look out for dripping water, wet floors, or a musty scent. Any of these signs could mean your water heater is leaking and should be repaired as soon as possible.
2. Low Water Pressure
Do you have low water pressure coming from your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, or bathtub? If so, the problem may be with your water heater. Low water pressure is certainly a nuisance, and it can also be a sign of mineral or sediment buildup, a kink in the water heater pipe, or poor heater installation. In any case, it’s best to have a professional inspect your water heater to take care of the problem.
3. Clicking Sounds
Most water heaters make noise on occasion, so a few random noises here and there shouldn’t be too concerning. But if you hear frequent clanging, banging, or popping coming from your water heater, it could be a sign of a major problem. Repeated, loud noises from the water heater are typically a sign of overheating due to clogs in the system. That overheating could be dangerous for your family, causing potential burns to the skin and running up water bill expenses.
4. Rusty Water
Rusty water is another common sign your water heater needs repairs. If you notice that your water looks dirty or rusty or tastes metallic, this is a clear sign your water heater pipes are beginning to rust. A professional can resolve the problem by draining the tank, checking the quality of the pipes, and replacing parts as needed.
How Often Do You Need to Replace Your Water Heater?
It’s always possible that the above signs will lead to a full water heater replacement if repair isn’t feasible. On average, a traditional water heater will last anywhere from eight to 12 years, so if yours is into double digits, you may need to start thinking about a replacement, even if it’s not showing its age quite yet. A tankless water heater can last 20 years or more, so it might be worth looking into one if it is time to replace your water heater.
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Last Updated: September 18, 2023