Jan 14, 2019

When your hot water heater breaks, you face a big question. Repair or replace? Is it going to be worth it to fix your hot water heater? Or are you better off buying and installing a new one? The answer depends on several factors.

Age of Your Water Heater

How old is your hot water heater? The average lifespan for a hot water heater is around ten years. If you haven’t replaced your hot water heater in the past decade, ‘replace’ should win the hot water heater repair vs replace battle. If your hot water heater is on the newer side (and you’ve been happy it), you may opt to repair instead.

Some hot water heaters last longer than others. According to the Department of Energy, a tankless coil and indirect water heater has a life expectancy of ten or 11 years. A storage tank or heat pump will last ten to 15 years. A solar water heater lasts about 20 years, and a tankless water heater can last even longer.

The lifespan of a hot water heater its affected by many things, including its location, maintenance, and how frequently you’ve drained and flushed it. Ten years is a general guideline, not a law. If your tank is rusty or corroded, it’s time for a replacement – even if it isn’t ten years old yet.

Efficiency: High Water Bills

Most hot water heaters have a sticker on the side with the estimated annual cost of operation. You should also check the R-value of your storage tank. The R-value measures how well your hot water heater resists heat. A higher R-value means your hot water tank is well insulated. If your hot water tank has an R-value that’s less than 24 (or it feels hot to touch), it may be time to replace it.

You can also look at a water heater’s energy factor. This number indicates the efficiency of the heater. A higher number means it’s more efficient, but remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less expensive annually. For that, you need to factor in fuel type and cost. (See the Department of Energy for information on how to calculate annual operating costs of a water heater).

Satisfaction: How Effective Is Your Unit?

In the years since your hot water heater was first installed, you may have undergone some changes. Are you still using the same amount of hot water? If your family has grown, you may need a larger tank to accommodate extra loads of laundry, baths, and toilet usage. If people have moved out, you might be wasting money by heating water unnecessarily.

Before the current problem that caused you to consider the hot water heater repair vs replace dilemma, were you satisfied? Did you find that there was enough hot water to go around, and that your water heated up quickly enough? If you already had to stand around for several minutes as you waited for the water to get up to temperature, or plan showers around a schedule so everyone could get hot water, it’s probably time for a replacement.

Damage: What Is Causing Your Water Heater Issues?

The type of damage will also impact the hot water heater repair vs replace debate. It’s always worth it to call a technician who can inspect your hot water heater and give you a quote for repair or replacement. If you have a leak, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get away with repair. Other types of problems, like your water heating too slowly (or not at all) might have less expensive solutions.

Cost: Repair vs. Replacement

How much it’s going to cost is often the deciding factor when you’re choosing to repair vs replace your hot water heater. The general rule of thumb is that if the repair is going to cost 50% or more of the replacement, it isn’t worth it. You have to look at more than just the cost of the repairs and the cost of the replacement, though. Here are the factors you should consider for repair costs:

  • How much is the repair itself going to cost?
  • How much longer can you expect your hot water heater to last if you do undertake the repairs? If you’re only adding a year or two onto the longevity of your water heater, it might not be worth the investment. The Association of Certified Home Inspectors suggests that if the repair cost per year is more than 10% of the cost of installing a new water heater, it’s not worth it.
  • Does the installer offer any kind of warranty for the replaced parts?

Thinking about replacing your hot water heater? Don’t forget about these costs:

  • How much will the new hot water heater cost to purchase? What is the cost to install?
  • What are operating and maintenance costs going to look like? This will help you decide if it’s worth investing in a more efficient water heating system.

Hot Water Heater Repair Vs Replace

Ultimately, there are several factors that will influence your decision to repair or replace your hot water heater. Before you make a decision, talk with a knowledgeable technician. He or she will be able to give you suggestions for your specific situation. The technician can explain the costs and drawbacks of your options, and may be aware of types of water heaters that you hadn’t considered.

It’s always worth talking to an expert before making what could be a very expensive choice. If your hot water heater seems like it’s on its way out, call Newcomb and Company. We’ll help you reach the decision that’s best for you.

Need help? Call now.