Find out when it’s a good time to buy a new water heater.
The mindset that ‘If it isn’t broke why fix it?‘, can only go so far when it comes to things that we rely on regularly.
By maintaining and staying mindful of your home appliances life expectancy you can take a more proactive approach. The water heater isn’t something we think about often. It’s just one of the minions that work constantly in the background and keep your home in sync with all of the day to day things that we do while we live there. Whether you’re cooking or cleaning, you expect the water to be warm when you turn the faucet to the desired temperature. The same is expected when you flip on a light switch in a room.
Unfortunately the water heater isn’t really given any thought until it’s too late. Water that isn’t heated anymore or worse, a basement full of water.
The basement scenario seems pretty tame compared to units that are kept in the attic. Our neighbor learned first hand as she described water coming through her ceiling and a small waterfall cascading down her steps. She had just purchased the town home next door and had the home and all home appliances inspected just days before.
With our own floor plan identical to hers, it didn’t take long for us to start taking a serious look at our own unit.
A few of the parts that might break and need repair during the life time of your water heater:
- The pilot light goes out
- The electric water heater’s circuit breaker is tripped
- A broken thermostat
- A defective heating element
- A stuck valve
All of the these things can be fixed and will help you avoid the cost of purchasing a new water heater.
The life expectancy of a conventional unit is about 10 years and most water heaters come with a 6 year guarantee.
We examined our own appliance and realized it was still the original that came with the house, putting it at 14 years of age. We made appointments for several estimates to have a new unit installed and all three plumbers came to the same consensus; ‘our water heater was living on borrowed time’.
Over time water heaters will accumulate sediments in the bottom of the tank that can’t get flushed out anymore, therefor it will use much more energy and cause corrosion which will eventually break down your old unit.
Tank-less versus Conventional – After talking with our neighbors and friends about which option was best and who should we have do it, we decided to go with a tank-less unit. The upfront cost was going to be more, but the energy savings in the long run were going to pay for the device within in a year or two. It seemed like the decision was relatively easy to make. The plumber told us another story.
In order for a tank-less water heater to work properly it needs a 3/4″ gas line coming into the device.
Our gas line was a mere 1/2″ and we would need to upgrade this line that snaked through our attic down to the ground floor and out to the gas meter. The cost of the installation just dramatically jumped up and we would be left with a mess to clean up in terms of replacing sheet rock, new paint and such.
Replacing the old gas unit with a Conventional one was not only the least intrusive option for our home, but it was also much easier on the wallet.
Plumber Doing The Prep Work On Our New Water Heater
The upside – Thanks to technological advances newer model water heaters are not only more energy efficient but are constructed in such a way that they inhibit corrosion and retain the heat that is generated. This all sounded good and we scheduled a day to have the plumbers come over and replace it. Looking up in the attic and seeing the tank snugly fit between the rafters my only thought was; “How did they get that up there?”
You should weigh your options and find out which scenario works best for you. Cost effectiveness versus your upfront expense of installation will become determining factors for your decision. It doesn’t hurt to get a few different quotes for the job. You don’t want to be sold on something you don’t really need, yet you want to know that your getting a reasonable rate for your neighborhood.
Regular maintenance pays off in the end – Here’s a little tip that will help add to your water heaters life and its performance. Flush your unit annually. This involves shutting off the device and hooking up a regular garden house to it. By flushing your water heater you will be removing the mineral deposits that can corrode internal parts.
Don’t let the ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ habit find you in a pinch.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: 1 Year Later The Water Heater Installation Doesn’t Pass Inspection
What Nick didn’t mention in his original article is one of the guys slammed his finger in the process and was cussing and cursing through the rest of the installation. As you read already, the water heater sits in the attic of our town home and since we had hot water we never worried about it after the installation was complete.
Fast forward one year and we’re trying to sell the town home. Everything went fine during the inspection until the inspector got to the water heater. It’s sitting crooked, the vent doesn’t line up, the pan is too small, it’s secured improperly and it’s probably leaking carbon monoxide. Yikes!
We called Delk Plumbing and asked them to fix it. The guys that installed our water heater are no longer with the company. Surprise, surprise! They sent two other guys to look at it and after whispering back and forth for a while refused to fix the problem, claiming ‘the floor boards are rotten and although the guy in charge of the installation had screwed up from time to time he did install this one right’.
The new water heater hasn’t leaked so either the water heater was installed on bad floor boards or they’re making this up so they don’t have to fix it.
He even had the nerve to try to charge me for a service call. What a joke!!!
If you live in Summerville, SC or surrounding area, DO NOT hire Delk Plumbing if you want the work to be done properly!
A broken down home appliance will usually happen when you least expect it. By being proactive you can budget for this cost and with yearly maintenance you can guarantee your water heater’s best performance and prolonged life expectancy. Just be sure to perform a diligent check on the plumber you plan to hire so you don’t end up like us.
Have you replaced your water heater recently? Which type of unit did you decide on? Leave us a comment below.