When Should I Replace My Hot Water Heater?

National Refrigeration gives homeowners tips on how to know when to replace your hot water heater.

Most people are dependent upon having easily accessible warm running water. Each day we use it to bathe, wash our hands, cook, and do laundry and dishes. Because of this reliance on consistent access to hot water, it is important to know when to repair or replace your hot water heater. 

According to energy.gov, water heating is the second largest expense for homeowners in the U.S. 

Signs You Need a New Water Heater

Your tank is too old:

On average, traditional tank storage water heaters last from 10 to 15 years, while tankless water heaters can last 20 years or more. If your water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan, it is recommended you replace it with a more energy efficient option. 

No Hot Water: 

If you turn on the tap and find there is no hot water, first you should check your circuit breaker or pilot light. If that is not the cause, then your hot water heater may have reached the end of its lifespan. 

Having a licensed plumber check your hot water heater can help you determine whether it's time to repair or replace your system.

High water bills: 

If your water bill has been increasing lately, your hot water heater is not working efficiently. You are most likely in need of a repair or replacement.


If you notice water around your tank, check the fittings and connections to the tank as well as the temperature/pressure overflow pipe. If either of these are causing the leak, then it is likely to be resolved with some adjustments or tightening. If these components are not the cause, however, the tank is most likely the source of the issue. Water leaks are often times caused by expansions to the metal in the tank. This occurs over time as the inside of the tank is exposed to countless heating cycles. If this is the case it is time to replace your water heater. Failing to do so can result in significant damage to your home. 

Rusty water: 

When rust appears in the hot water from your bathtub or sink faucets, it most likely means your water heater is rusty.  If the tap water comes out rusty it could be an issue with your pipes. One way to determine whether it is a pipe issue or a tank issue is to run only cold water and see if rust is still present. If it is, then it is in your pipes and not in the tank.  A trusted plumber can help you identify the source and provide the best solutions for this issue. 

Rusty water can be caused by corrosion in your hot water heater or an issue with your pipes.

Visible wear: 

Take a look at the tank to observe if your tank appears to be corroded  externally or at the water line. Visible wear and tear can be an indicator that it’s time to replace your water heater. 

Unusual noises (knocking or rumbling): 

A water heater that is functioning properly will operate somewhat quietly. Sediment tends to build up at the bottom of the tank overtime and when the water is heated the sediments harden. This can cause banging or rumbling noises and is a sign your heater is nearing the end of its lifespan. 

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Have further questions regarding your hot water heater? Contact the National Refrigeration team, and we’ll find your solution.

Whether you need 24-7 emergency service or advice on improving your everyday air quality and comfort—at home and at work—call us at 401-737-2000 or email us.