One of the most common questions we receive, is “how do I know when my hot
water system needs replacing?”
Electric hot water systems, generally have an eight to ten-year life span
and gas water heaters have a life expectancy of between six to eight years. To
identify when your system was manufactured (which is the date the warranty
starts), locate the date stamp on the system (this differs depending on the
manufacturer). Most electric systems come with a ten-year warranty, so be sure
to check the status and paperwork that came with your current system so you’re
prepared when the time comes to replace or repair.
The clearest sign that you need your system replaced, is brown murky
water. This is a sign that rust has developed in your water ways.
Pinpointing where the rust has developed in the journey from tank to tap is the
next step. Either way, rusty water needs to be attended to immediately before
it compromises the sanitation of your household.
Before calling the plumber, there’s a few visual checks you can do to see if
you can understand where the rust is developing. Firstly, check the system for
rust around the water inlet or pressure relief valve on the system. If it has,
it’s a good indication rust has developed inside the tank. If you spot rust in
these areas, there is no hope for repair; your tank needs replacing
Rust can also form on the outside of the heater, so be sure to give it a
once over every so often. If you do spot signs of rust, reach out to your
Leaking water is also a sign that your hot water heater is on its
last legs. If you have your tank inside the house, for example under
the kitchen sink, a leakage can prove hazardous and potentially cause flooding.
If you spot a leak, even if it’s a small one, reach out to your local plumber
If your system is emitting noise during use this is also an
indication it needs to be seen to. This noise is sometimes confused
with the sound of pipework; if it’s the water heater, the sound is a rumbling
noise that occurs as the system is heating the water up. The noise can be
caused by sediment build up, which leads to the tank using more energy due to
increased strain in heating water. If you continue to use your tank in this condition
the damage will accelerate, as the added strain to create hot water will see
the metal become more brittle. You can reduce the occurrence of sediment build
up by flushing your tank on a yearly basis, doing so drains the sediment from
the tank. This maintenance task supports the longevity of the tank. We
recommend consulting with a licensed plumber to undertake this task.
Now for the simplest sign of all. If your heater is not heating your
water, it is in need of replacing. Don’t mistake this for taking time
to heat up; slow heating times can be caused by pipework. Causes of this can be
a misadjusted thermostat, a broken heating element or that your tank is too
small for the size of your household. Adjusting a thermostat is an easy fix,
but you’ll need a plumber to advise whether or not it’s more cost effective to
replace the heating element or install a new system. When it comes to
identifying the household requirements for hot water, licensed plumbers can
calculate the peak loads and daily loads of your household, and from there
recommend the right solution.
So, now that you know your hot water system needs replacing, how do you know
which system to replace it with? Keep an eye out for our next blog where we’ll
run through some of our preferred units.