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Water Heater Repair vs. Replacement: What You Need to Know

water heater

As a homeowner in California you know that like any appliance, your water heater can break down over time and needs to be replaced. Replacing your tank or tankless water heater tank before it causes problems will help you save time and money. This is because waiting too long can lead to bigger and more serious problems, such as leaks and water damage to your property.

However, in some cases, repairing your water heater may be a more cost-effective solution than replacement. So, water heater repair vs. replacement – which is better? Although water heater repair is viable in several situations, at times, it makes more sense to install a new one. So how do you find out it is time to replace your water heater? And how much does a water heater replacement cost? Let’s first understand the basics of a water heater.

Table of Contents

  • How a Water Heater Works
  • Factors to Consider When Deciding Between a Repair or Replacement Water Heater
  • » The Age of Your Water Heater
  • » Is it Meeting Your Heating Needs?
  • » Frequency and Cost of Repair
  • Signs That it’s Time to Repair Your Water Heater
    • » Changes in Water Temperature
    • » Unusual Sounds
    • » Reduction in Hot Water Pressure
    • » Hot Water Leakage
  • Signs That it’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater
    • » The Age of the Unit
    • » Corrosion or Rust
    • » Loss of Hot Water Volume
  • Ways to Extend the Life of Your Water Heater
    • » Flush Your Water Heater
    • » Test Pressure-Relief Valve
    • » Lower Thermostat Temperature
  • Choosing the Right Professional for Your Water Heater Repair or Replacement
  • Summing Up

How a Water Heater Works

A water heater works by heating cold water using electricity or a gas burner. Both gas and electric water heaters have similar parts. A standard water heater uses a storage tank and either uses gas or electric power to heat a specific amount of water at a time. Gas heaters use a flame under the tank in order to create heat, whereas electric systems are plugged into a power supply to heat the burners and run alongside the thermostat.

There is a thermostat that monitors the temperature as well as a pressure relief valve to help ensure the heating process does not generate unsafe water pressure levels. Pressure in the water tank builds gradually as the water gets hot. Whenever you turn on a faucet, pressure sends hot water out of the faucet through a series of pipes. For tankless water heaters, a heating exchanger is used to heat the water as there is no tank.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between a Repair or Replacement Water Heater

» The Age of Your Water Heater

Whether it is time for a water heater replacement or water heater repair is usually determined by the age of your current unit. According to estimates, gas water heaters often last ten years whereas tankless water heaters last about 20 years.

This means that if your water heater is near the end of its useful life, you would be better off replacing it, particularly if the water heater repair cost is high.

» Is it Meeting Your Heating Needs?

Before determining whether to replace or repair your unit, you should assess whether the current system is meeting your needs or not.  If you are satisfied with the performance of your existing tankless water heater, but it is showing signs of wear and tear, a repair might be all that is needed.

On the other hand, if you are not getting sufficient hot water to meet your needs, or the water is not as hot as you would like, it may be time for a new and improved water heater.

» Frequency and Cost of Repair

Cost is one of the key factors to consider when weighing your options. When your water heater malfunctions or breaks down, you should perform a cost-benefit analysis. This will help determine if replacing or repairing is a smarter choice.

Note that if the cost of heater repair is over 50% of the cost of replacement, it is generally a good idea to replace the unit. In contrast, if the repair cost is less than 50% of the total replacement cost, repairing the unit is a prudent choice. 

Signs That it’s Time to Repair Your Water Heater

Here are some signs of a failing water heater:

» Changes in Water Temperature

You will start to notice fluctuations in the water temperature if there is an issue with your water heater. The water temperature will not be stable. In most cases, this occurs because of the accumulation of mineral deposits and sediments around the water heating components.

You should call an Oxnard plumber or water heater repair expert as soon as you experience frequent fluctuations in the water temperature.

» Unusual Sounds

A little noise from your water heater is natural. However, if you keep hearing loud popping, cracking, or banging sounds emanating from your heater, it is time to hire Oxnard water heater repair services.

» Reduction in Hot Water Pressure

Mineral deposits and sediments can do more harm than lower your water heater’s efficacy and the performance of its heating elements. They may also build up enough to block pipes and reduce the water pressure. There are some other issues that may also cause reduced water pressure, such as kinked distribution lines.

» Hot Water Leakage

Your heater may occasionally have condensation on the outside, which is normal. However, you should be wary if you notice water steadily dripping down the side of the unit or see a puddle of water at its base.

Depending on the location of the unit, carpets and any items near the water heater may get damaged. An Oxnard plumbing contractor can inspect your whole unit and identify the source of the water leak.

Signs That it’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater

These signs and issues indicate the need to replace your water heater.  However, these signs are not definite and you should consult with a professional plumber before making a choice.

» The Age of the Unit

Most water heaters can last between 15 and 20 years. If your water heater is more than 20 years old, it is prudent to install a new system.

» Corrosion or Rust

Hot water tanks are usually made from steel and eventually this kind of metal will start to rust and corrode. You should check your water tank for any corrosion or rust near the temperature and pressure relief valve. There’s no way to adequately repair a hot water tank once it has started to rust or corrode.

» Loss of Hot Water Volume 

If you do not have hot water when you need it, this is usually an obvious sign that something is wrong with the water heater. There could be an issue with the electric thermostat or the heating element. These are warning signs of a water heater that is in decline and you should swap it out for a new one.

Ways to Extend the Life of Your Water Heater

Wondering how to extend the life of your water heater? Being proactive about your water heater and scheduling maintenance will save you money, headaches, and time.

» Flush Your Water Heater

Keep in mind that flushing your water heater once or twice each year will help minimize damage and improve its efficiency and life. Flushing your water heater regularly minimizes the sediment and mineral build-up that can break down the interior of the water tank and even clog the drain valve.

» Test Pressure-Relief Valve

A pressure release valve is one of the important safety features in your water heater. And if your water heater overheats, this valve will open in order to relieve pressure inside the water tank. This minimizes the risk of damage to the tank and prevents it from cracking. You can test the pressure-relief valve by lifting its handle and then letting it snap back.

» Lower Thermostat Temperature

It is also an excellent idea to lower the temperature setting on your thermostat to about 120 degrees. This is important and will help lower the damage to your water heater that may be caused by overheating.

Choosing the Right Professional for Your Water Heater Repair or Replacement

It is not enough to trust your own investigation or assessment when deciding to repair or replace your water heater. When you are not sure, always ask a professional plumber to evaluate your unit. Not just anyone should take on water heater replacement or repair. This can lead to the need for more repairs and possible danger. Professionally trained people with the right experience are the best people for the job.

If after determining all your needs, comparing costs, and inspecting and evaluating the unit you have decided to repair your heater, you will need to call a plumbing company to complete the job.  On the other hand, if you have decided to replace your water heater, it is best to rely on Oxnard water heater replacement services for a personalized estimate.

They will be able to determine whether a new tankless water heater will be a more cost-effective and energy-efficient solution.

Summing Up

If you are looking for water heater repair or replacement in Oxnard, CA, there is no better time to call Gallegos Plumbing. Their team of experts is available 24/7 to offer the best water heater replacement and installation services and is proud to offer high-quality services at an affordable price.

Looking to upgrade to a better and more energy-efficient water heater model to help you save money on energy bills? Call Gallegos Plumbing at (805) 243-2622 or fill out the online form to get the best water heater repair and replacement services.

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