Nothing is worse than waking up to take a warm shower in the morning and being hit with frigid cold water. Thankfully, water heating systems save us from that uncomfortable situation … most of the time.
But making sure your water heater does its job without delay is why evaluating your water heater at your inspection is one of the most important jobs home and commercial inspectors can do.
Water heaters require a certain level of maintenance. After your initial home or commercial inspection, we recommend that you get your water heater regularly serviced and maintained by a licensed plumber, as a faulty system is a huge cost you don’t want after you’ve already moved in.
Not sure whether your water heater is in good condition or not? Or worried you may need to replace your water heater entirely? Here’s everything you need to know about water heaters—and why it matters.
Types of Water Heaters
There are two kinds of water heaters, tank and tankless with gas or electricity options. While both systems require maintenance for optimal operation, tank systems typically require less.
Conventional tank water heaters are the most common type of home water heaters. This system is made up of a tank that holds all of the water, with insulated walls on the inside to keep water warm until it’s used. Tank system maintenance typically includes flushing the tank to remove sediments to prevent build up. Conventional systems tend to have cheaper initial costs.
Tankless water heaters have no tank for holding water. Instead, super-heated coils flash heat water, providing hot water on demand and allowing the system to provide endless hot water as needed. These systems have more components, and require regular maintenance for proper operation and efficiency. While they have higher up-front and maintenance costs, they have a lower operating cost. Plus, you never run out of hot water.
Lifespan of water heaters
On average, water heaters last up to ten years from the time of installation. However, this time frame may vary based on numerous factors. We recommend having your water heater serviced/checked yearly by a licensed plumber.
Many homeowners may find out too late that their water heaters’ warranty doesn’t cover labor costs, so before signing the dotted line, schedule a home or commercial inspection with us. Also, don’t be tempted to install awater heater by yourself. Improper installation can create safety and operation issues.
Why your water heater isn’t working
There are many possible reasons why your water heater isn’t working. Here is a list of the most common issues.
Leaking: Hot water systems are prone to leaking. While some leaks can be repaired, a failed tank or heat exchanger typically means it’s time for a replacement.
Breakdown of the anode: The anode has to be replaced periodically. Many warranties don’t cover damage if the anode breaks, especially if the water heater’s near the end of its lifespan.
Decrease in water pressure: This might not hinder the water heater’s functioning, but can heat up less hot water, which isn’t ideal for anyone.
Deterioration and Rusting: When the water heater’s interior accumulates rust, water changes to a yellowish-brown color. Yuck.
Cracked Dip Tube: The dip tube pushes cold water to the bottom of the tank to be heated. Cracks in the tube stop this from happening, limiting your supply of hot water.
Temperature and Pressure Valve: This safety measure, built into the water heater, that releases excess pressure and heat. If pressure and heat build up it can cause the water heater to explode!
Malfunctioning Thermostat: If you feel your water heater is erratically heating water, the thermostat might be causing problems.
When should I replace my water heater?
Basic rule of thumb: if maintenance costs are more than 25% of the costs of a new water heater, or you have had multiple previous repairs, you’re better off replacing than fixing. Look for signs that all is not well with your water heater. You might notice puddles of water appearing under the heater or be hit with shudder-inducing cold showers. Spot these signs and your water heater might be due for service, inspection, or even replacement.
Schedule your home or commercial inspection with us
Not sure about your water heater’s condition or installation? At Assured Home Inspectors, we conduct fast, thorough and affordable home and commercial inspections that include evaluating water heaters.
Our professionals will examine your installed systems to determine their condition and installation. We check for operation and safety.
Don’t risk costly repair bills or cold showers. Schedule an inspection with us.