Is it time to replace your water heater?

Posted by Matt Buchanan

One of the common types of water damage situations we run into is a failed/leaking water heater. Water heaters can spill out a lot of water very quickly and the amount of damage can quickly reach into the several thousand dollar range. While we aren’t plumbers, there are a few common malfunctions that we see play out over and over again when called to fix the water damage itself. So as any regular readers of our water damage restoration blog know, we’d like to spend some time educating you about things you can do to make sure you don’t end up in an emergency situation due to flooding from your water heater.


But before you we jump into prevention….


Free water damage restoration estimateIf you’ve stumbled to our web site because you just discovered water damage from a hot water heater leak, please give us a call. We offer nationwide emergency water damage restoration services and can always provide you with a free estimate for the work that will be required to remove any standing water and dry out the remaining affected areas. If you call us, you’re guaranteed to get:

  • 24/7 emergency response times – we can dispatch a technician to your house immediately and we can always be there within 1 hour.
  • Certified technicians – don’t leave your home’s safety to chance. Our technicians are always certified by the IICRC to provide the highest level of service.
  • Mold-safe conditions – whether you know it or not, mold is the gravest threat after water damage. We guarantee a mold-safe environment upon completion of our water mitigation services.
  • 100% satisfaction – that comes standard any time you hire a crew through us. If you aren’t happy, we’ll fix it. Period.
  • Drug & background-screened technicians – Above all, we see our role as providing safety for your family. That just isn’t possible if we allowed anyone to come into your home. So unlike many water damage companies, we only hire technicians that pass a background screening and pass regular drug tests.


Okay, now back to the water heater problem signs…


Now that we’re done tooting our own horn, let’s get to the meat of the blog post. Namely, what commonly fails when it comes to water heaters, how do you decrease the odds of those things going wrong, and finally when do you know it’s time to replace your unit altogether?

Here is a great article discussing the biggest enemies of water heaters. They are:

  • Neglect – it’s in your crawlspace, attic or basement closet and you completely ignore it until it fails. It happens all the time. Out of sight, out of mind. What should you do about it? Have your water heater inspected and troubleshot once a year by a licensed plumber.
  • water-heater-anodeRust – all water heaters have what are called ‘anodes’. These are metal fittings that ‘attract’ rust and become sacrificed over time to save the other important metal elements within your water heater from succumbing to rust. Over time, these anodes typically give out and fail. What should you do about it?  The sacrificial anode will need to be replaced roughly once every 6 years. If your home is equipped with a water softening system, that can cause even faster erosion of the anode, so you may have to replace it more regularly.
  • Buildup of sediment – When water full of minerals is heated up, sediment is a byproduct. Unfortunately, sediment build up creates a barrier that prevents the anode from doing its job and degrades the glass lining on the bottom of your water heater. What should you do about it? Drain your water heater once every 6 months to a year, depending on the hardness of the water in your home. If you don’t know how to do that, here’s a quick video explanation:

  • High water pressure – your water heater should have a pressure valve at the top of the unit. It should read between 60 and 80 PSI. Anything over that and you’re asking for trouble. What should you do about it? If your reading is over 80 PSI, consider having a pressure reducing valve installed in your home. This will help not only protect your water heater but also other plumbed appliances in your home.


When is it time to replace my water heater?


If you search for ‘how long should my water heater last’ you’ll get a range of answers. Generally speaking, with proper maintenance, a water heater should last about 10 years. Some will not last that long, while others can continue doing their job for another 5 years. But when it comes to your specific water heater, a quick visual inspection should yield some clues. Most noticeably, are you seeing rust and corrosion towards the bottom of the tank or near any valves? If so, it’s probably time to call in the professionals and consider having a new water heater installed.


Why is water heater replacement so important?


Beyond the obvious ‘so it works and doesn’t flood your home’, there’s another important factor to consider. Should your worn out old water heater fail and flood your home, there’s a good chance your adjuster may deny your insurance claim on the grounds you neglected to replace it. There is almost certainly wording in your insurance policy stating that homeowner negligence is grounds for a claim denial. A water heater failure is often times applicable. Don’t let this happen to you…it can be a very, very costly mistake!


About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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