Time for a water heater replacement?

Published by Parisa Ostovari

Updated: August 12, 2022

Taking a shower, washing dishes, doing laundry — what do these all have in common? Hot water. It’s an important part of our everyday lives and something that is easy to take for granted – until we are without it unexpectedly.

Signs your water heater needs replaced

The average lifespan of a water heater is between 10 and 15 years. There are many factors that can affect this lifecycle, including water heater maintenance and the quality of water that goes into the water heater.

Even a well-maintained water heater will need to be replaced at some point. Watch for these signs to help you know if it’s time to replace your water heater.

  • Water dripping out of the relief valve. This is an indication that the water heater is operating at too high of a temperature in order to heat the water, creating unnecessary pressure on the equipment.

  • Hot water heater making strange noises. If there’s a rumbling noise coming from your water heater, it could be caused by water boiling up through lime buildup at the bottom of the water heater.

  • Water heater not properly heating. If you start your shower with hot water and it’s running cold by the end, your water heater probably needs to be replaced.

  • Water underneath the water heater. When a water heater begins to fail, it will start dripping water from the bottom. Sitting water underneath may indicate you need a new water heater.

How to choose a water heater

If you have determined it’s time for a hot water heater replacement, there are a few key considerations during the decision process: type of water heater, efficiency, cost and size.

  • Type of water heater: Tank, tankless, heat pump or solar. There are options available to you when purchasing a water heater. The two most common types of water heaters homeowners install are tank and tankless. Most likely your home currently has a water heater with a 40- to 55-gallon tank. This type of water heater stores water in the tank at about 120 degrees and is ready when you need it. A tankless water heater provides hot water on demand. Instead of storing gallons of water and keeping it at 120 degrees, it heats up the water just in time for you to use it.

  • Efficiency: To maximize energy and operating cost savings, look for an energy-efficient water heater. Both the type of water heater and the type of fuel it uses impact the overall system efficiency. Bell Brothers works closely with homeowners to educate them on their options and help them purchase the most efficient and cost-effective water heater for their homes.

  • Cost: As you determine which type of water heater to buy, it is important to not only look at the purchase price, but to also take the installation, operating and maintenance costs into consideration. Knowing the total cost of ownership will help you determine if buying a more efficient system will be worth the investment.

  • Size: Not sure what size of water heater you need? Calculate your household’s peak-hour hot water demand, and use that to determine what size to purchase.

Want to know more? Check out our residential water heater guide to learn everything you need to know about water heaters, including:

  1. The different types

  2. When it’s time for a replacement

  3. How to select and right-size a water heater for your home

  4. The importance of regular maintenance

  5. How to troubleshoot common water heater problems