Like with anything in your home your water heater has the potential to break. Whether it’s a piece of the water heater or the whole thing it’s important you’re prepared to pay the cost of repair or replacement. It’s recommended you always have a portion of your savings account sectioned off for household repairs. Being prepared with the funds and a plan ready to go is the best way to avoid surprises.
Here are a few things about your water heater to help you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
What Can Go Wrong
There are many things that can go wrong with the water heater in your home. This can include leaking around the temperature-pressure relief (TPR) valve, around heating element gaskets, and from pipes around the water heater. If it’s a gas water heater the pilot light can go out resulting in no hot water until it’s relit. Or, if your water heater is electric the breaker could trip and need to be reset. You should also monitor for sediment build up, broken thermostats, and damaged dip tubes. All of these can lead to limiting the amount of hot water you and your family are used to.
If you notice any of these things are wrong with your water heater it’s important you call a plumber. A plumber will be able to correctly diagnose the issue and repair the problem accordingly. Remember to never try repairing gas lines or electrical elements yourself as they can be very dangerous to work with.
Is There A Faulty Part?
It’s important before you spring for a full-blown water heater replacement you try to determine if it’s just one part in the machine causing the problem. The issues stated above are the most common so they are great places to start when checking for the problem. If you can’t determine the problem try getting in touch with a plumber and describing the situation to them. They should be able to help you determine if there is a certain part acting up or if it might be an issue with the whole system.
It’s important to know whether you’ll need to simply repair a piece of your water heater or if you’ll need a full replacement. One is obviously more expensive than the other and if you can determine it’s a small piece rather than the whole thing you have the potential to save.
Should You Replace The Entire Tank?
If you can’t single the damage down to one part of the water heater it may be time to replace it. The typical lifespan of a water heater is 8 to 10 years when properly maintained. You can sometimes get them to last longer but anything after 15 years is taking a risk and you should be ready to replace it at a moment’s notice.
Things that will damage a water heater enough to require replacement are neglect, internal rust, sediment buildup, corrosive fumes, improper sizing, high water pressure, transient currents, and leaking union and flex lines. It’s important to keep an eye on these things to prevent your water heater from being ruined.
You can find a new water heater for your home ranging anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on the size, model, and functionality of the unit. You can decide to get a water heater with a tank, which stores heated water for later use. Or, you can go with a tankless water heater that heats the water as needed by passing it over coils in the system. The tankless water heater works for smaller homes that won’t need water at more than one point at a time. You also have to decide whether you want a gas or electric water heater. An electric water heater is less expensive up front, but a gas water heater is more energy efficient in the long run.
Using A Home Warranty
On the same line as budgeting for a water heater replacement you can always use an existing home warranty to cover most of the cost. If you don’t currently have a home warranty it might be a smart idea to invest the money per year to get one. A home warranty can cover your home’s A/C including duct work, electrical systems, plumbing systems, and water heaters. It can also cover items such as refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers, ovens, stovetops, garage door openers, and more.
Home warranties make the most sense when you live in a home with older systems and appliances. It can also provide a peace of mind in general when you know you’re covered if something breaks. Every home warranty plan is different though so if you are planning on using the home warranty to cover the water heater make sure that’s something they offer before diving in. If you aren’t interested in paying yearly for a home warranty going the budgeting route will be your best option.
Why Proper Care & Maintenance Is Important
The best way to be prepared for a water heater replacement cost is to help your water heater last as long as possible. You can do this by properly maintaining it and checking it for anything that might go wrong. This can include adding insulation to older water heaters to prevent heat loss, properly checking for and flushing any sediment found in the tank, annually testing the TPR valve, and examining the sacrificial anode rod to ensure it isn’t too thin or rusted.
By performing this routine maintenance on your water heater you’ll help it stay in good condition and prevent premature aging of the system. This way when the water heater finally does go out you’ll be able to see it coming and you can be prepared financially.
Now that you can prepare for the cost of a water heater replacement you’re less likely to be shocked by the unexpected expense. While the water heater isn’t the only thing that can break in your home it can definitely be costly if it leaks or annoying if you suddenly can’t use hot water to shower.
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