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What are the Signs that a Water Heater Needs Replacing?

At McQuillan Bros. Plumbing, Heating & AC in St. Paul, MN, we understand that it’s not always easy to tell if you should repair your water heater or replace it with a new system. Luckily, your water heater will give you hints that it’s reaching the end of its lifespan and due for a replacement. Take a look at this list of 10 signs that you need a new water heater. Since the Twin Cities are known for getting a lot of cold weather, it’s important to address the following signs sooner than later.

1. Water Heater is Getting Old

Unless you’ve lived in your home for a decade or more, you probably don’t know exactly how old your water heater is. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out your heater’s age. Most heaters include the date the unit was manufactured on a label posted on the front of the tank. If you don’t see the year of manufacture, you’ll have to figure out the unit’s age using its serial number. As a rule of thumb, the first two digits represent the year it was made.

A standard water heater lasts between 10 and 15 years. If your heater is in that age range or close to it, then you should consider replacing it sooner rather than later.

2. Water Heater Gets Heavy Daily Usage

Now that we know the average water heater lasts up to 15 years, we should take into account one major factor that can contribute to a shorter lifespan: daily usage. How often your heater is used each day will determine how much wear and tear it accrues. For example, a large family that uses a high volume of hot water puts a greater strain on the unit compared to a single occupant or a couple with lower needs.

3. Water Heater is Leaking

Leaks and drips around your water heater are never a good sign. If you notice water dripping from the tank or puddles forming on the floor beneath it, that means your water heater is at the end of its life. In fact, leaks are one of the most common signs that your unit needs to be replaced.

Producing hot water for your home takes a great deal of heat and pressure. As the water inside the tank heats up, it causes the metal tank itself to expand. Over time, the strain of constantly expanding and contracting can create small fissures or tears in the metal. As the years go by, these minuscule fissures will widen into larger breaks.

As the heater ages, the inner tank can break down and erode, which eventually results in those tell-tale, worrisome leaks. Eventually, minor leaks will worsen until one day the tank breaks and floods the room with water.

4. Water Heater Stops Making Hot Water

Have you noticed your shower water has recently taken a turn for the frigid? Or perhaps the water in your home takes a long time to heat up and only lasts a few minutes before turning cold again? A lack of hot water is probably the most noticeable (and frustrating) sign that you need a new water heater. In many cases, the failure is due to a buildup of sediment, which covers the heat source and prevents it from properly heating up the water inside the tank.

5. Water Heater Makes Rusty Colored Water

Turning on your tap and filling up a glass of rust-colored water is understandably alarming. Rust water is a sign that the inner tank of your water heater is rusting. To figure out if you have a rusty water heater, simply place a bucket under the appliance’s tank and fill up the bucket. If the water comes out rust-colored, then you know it’s time to replace the unit ASAP. Waiting to replace the heater will almost certainly result in springing major leaks as it continues to rust and deteriorate.

6. Water Heater Is Clogged With Sentiment

As your water heater ages, it’s not unusual for a large quantity of sediment to build up inside of it. Sediments are small molecules that naturally occur in tap water; usually, they’re a natural mineral like calcium or manganese. While these minerals don’t do any harm to your body, they can seriously damage your water heater. Sediment has been known to damage the heating element, block the plumbing, and contribute to the premature aging of your unit.

If you notice that your water looks sandy, muddy, or hazy, it’s most likely caused by an excessive amount of minerals inside the water heater. This is a sign that you should have your unit replaced soon.

7. Water Heater Gives Off Strange Smells

The water flowing from your taps should never smell like metal. If you notice a metallic odor coming from your water heater, that means the tank is breaking down and releasing flakes into your water supply. The most effective way to fix this is by replacing the old unit.

8. Water Heater Making Odd Noises

Your water heater should be mostly silent during daily operations. Pay close attention to any strange or unusual sounds that crop up, as they are most likely an indication that something isn’t right. The most common sounds associated with a water tank failure include loud cracks, pops, and bubbles.

9. Water Heater Needs Frequent Repairs

It’s not unusual for a water heater to need occasional repair-work, especially as it ages. However, frequent repairs are a sign of trouble. After all, it won’t take long for those repair bills to add up to the cost of a new heater. If your unit has been serviced multiple times in a year, or the repair work is estimated to cost over half the price of a new unit, then we recommend replacing it.

We also recommend skipping serious repairs and replacing your water heater if the unit is reaching the end of its lifespan. It doesn’t make financial sense for you to invest a huge amount of money into a unit that will need to be replaced in a year or two anyway. In either case, our expert technician will let you know which course of action is in your best interest after they conduct a thorough inspection of the heater.

10. Water Heater Replacement

Do any of the signs on this list sound familiar? Then your water heater is probably a good candidate for a replacement. Here at McQuillan Bros. Plumbing, Heating & AC, we’ve served homeowners in Ramsey County, Washington County, and Hennepin County for over 135 years. During that time, we’ve replaced countless water heaters for our many satisfied customers, ensuring that they can enjoy the comfort of reliable hot water for years to come.

When you work with us, you can trust us to install your new water heater the right way and at the right price. Give us a call today to schedule your Minneapolis water heater replacement. We also provide other plumbing and HVAC services. Our team has the talent and experience to keep your home comfortable in every way.

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