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Should I Repair Or Replace My Water Heater?

Having water heater issues? Oftentimes a repair will be sufficient,, but if a repair ends up costing more than installing a new one, you’re better off replacing it instead.

Here are some signs you should replace your water heater rather than repair it:

  • You have a tank water heater that is 10-12 years old
  • Your warranties are insufficient or expired
  • You have leaks or rust colored water
  • You need frequent repairs

To help you weigh your options, we’ll look at several scenarios that indicate whether repair or replacement is best.

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Scenario #1: You have a tank water heater that is 10-12 years old

Most tank water heaters last between 10-12 years. If yours is about that age, the cost of repairing it will probably outweigh the investment in a new one.

On average, a water heater repair is about $500. New tank water heaters cost around $1,000 and tankless water heaters cost around $2,500. While the up-front cost of a water heater replacement is more, the long-term savings are worth it.

Sure, buying new is double the price for a tank heater, and 5 times more for tankless. But if your water heater is nearing the end of its life, you could actually end up spending $500 now for a repair, only to need another $500 repair a few months down the road.

In less than a year, you could have used that $1,000 to purchase a new tank heater outright, or invested in a tankless heater that has a lifespan of almost 20 years.

If well maintained, tankless heaters will save you hundreds of dollars in energy bills too!

Scenario #2: Your warranties are insufficient or have expired

If the warranty on your water heater has expired, or if your water heater hasn’t been well maintained and your warranty is void, you’re probably better off buying new.

Most water heaters have between a 5 and10-year warranty on parts. This means that if any part of the actual hardware breaks, you can get a free repair.

Additionally, most water heater installers will provide a 5-year warranty on the labor. Meaning, if anything wasn’t properly installed, they’ll come out and fix it for free.

If you’ve purchased an extended warranty, you’ll have greater peace of mind on both fronts. But if you haven’t, and your water heater’s warranties are expired, the cost of repairs could push any cost-savings over the edge.

Scenario #3: You have leaks or rust colored water

Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 to repair a leaky or rusted water heater tank. If you have a tank water heater andyou’re past the warranty period, replacement is recommended because the cost of a repair will not be worth it.

One of the benefits of tankless or “on demand” water heaters, is that they aren’t as susceptible to rust since they don’t store water. That being said, if a tankless heater develops a leak it can be very expensive to fix. And if left untreated, you risk having to replace it altogether.

Most tankless water heaters have at least a 10-year warranty, so if you’re experiencing a leak, make sure to double check your out-of-pocket costs with both the manufacturer and installer.

A note on rust: If rust colored water comes from your cold water faucets, this could be due to rusted pipes and not your water heater. If you’re unsure, call a professional plumber.

Scenario #4: You need frequent repairs

Even minor repairs add up over time. The general rule of thumb is if your repairs cost 50% or more than a brand-new replacement, it’s best to go with a new hot water heater instead.

This not only gives you peace of mind, but saves your pocket book long-term. Constant repairs aren’t just inconvenient, they’re a sign of a greater (and potentially costly) problem overall.

Double-check the validity of your warranty, but if it’s expired, you’re better off investing in a new water heater that will last you for years to come.

Ready to get a quote for a new water heater? Call Michael & Son today.

Since 1967, we’ve built a reputation as one of the most trustworthy plumbing and home services companies around. With expert advice and timely, dependable service, it’s no wonder we’ve earned more than 3,000 5-star reviews.