There are some things to consider before replacing your water heater, such as how old it is and whether it’s presenting problems. Regular maintenance and small repairs usually extend the life of your heater, however, if it is presenting any of these following signs, you should consider replacing it once and for all.

“We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us. - A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Water Heater Age

A gas heater won't last as much as an electric heater.
A gas heater won’t last as much as an electric heater. Source: Pixabay

The average life expectancy of a water heater is 8 to 10 years. After 10 years it’s usually when professionals recommend you to replace your heater, whether it’s presenting problems or not (because if it’s not, it probably will in a short amount of time). That’s a general rule for electric heaters, while gas water heaters only last from 6 to 8 years.


You should consider a water heater replacement before that time if it’s starts showing symptoms like noises and leaks, which we will talk about more next.

But before I give you more on that, let me just add:

You can find out the age of your water heater by checking the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. I must warn you: the manufacturers use a code to represent the date the heater was made, so if you can’t understand the code, call the company or check their website for more information. If that doesn’t help, call a professional to find it out for you and take the opportunity to get a full inspection of your heater!

Rusty Colored Water

Rusty water can be an indication you need to replace the heater.
Rusty water can be an indication you need to replace the heater. Source: Pexels

The problem with rusty water is that you can’t be sure of where the rust is coming from, if it’s from the water itself or if it’s from the pipes. The tip I can give you is:

  • If rust appears in the sink and bathtub hot water faucets, it’s most likely to have a rusty water heater
  • If tap water comes out rusty as well, the problem is probably rusty pipes, especially if you have a galvanized pipes system

More than that,

If you spot rust on the outer part of your heater, like in the water inlet or pressure relief valve, there are high chances the rust has already reached the inner part as well. In that case, replace the heater as soon as possible!

Noisy Heater

Sediment buildup will cause your heater to make a lot of noise.
Sediment buildup will cause your heater to make a lot of noise. Source: Pixabay

The older the heater, the more noise it is likely to make. And noises in the water heater can happen because of sediment buildup, which hardens and causes rumbling and banging sounds. Not only that, but it also lessens the efficiency of the heater and accelerates overall damage.

When the water heater starts to make noise, it also means you should keep an eye out for leaks.


A leaking water heater is dangerous.
A leaking water heater is dangerous. Source: The Family Handyman

As the years go by and your water heater reaches the end of its life, it’s possible to start finding water around the water heater tank. Which means leaks started to appear. The main reason they happen is because of the metal expansions in the tank - when it’s constantly heating and cooling, the metal expands and after a while it causes water to start leaking from gaps.

However, if the water is accumulating near the connections or fittings of the tank, it could mean there’s something wrong there instead of in the heater itself. In this case, a plumber can make a simple repair.

If you start noticing leaks, don’t wait around for it to get worse. These could cause bigger damage like soaked carpeting, destroyed belongings, and mold buildup on floors, walls, and carpeting.

Not Enough Hot Water

If there's not enough hot water, this could be a sign of an old water heater.
If there’s not enough hot water, this could be a sign of an old water heater. Source: Bob Vila

One of the clearest signs there’s something off with your water heater is the lack of hot water. There are three possible causes for it:

  • Misadjusted thermostat
  • Broken heating element
  • Small tank for a big house

While the first two are fixable without needing to replace the water heater itself, the third one is just pretty clear you will need to get a new, better heater.

Should You Go Tankless?

A tankless water heater has pros and cons too.
A tankless water heater has pros and cons too. Source: homeyou

When there’s the need to replace your water heater tank, you should do a little research and consider all options. Maybe a more energy-efficient model, a bigger heater, a smaller heater...whatever is fit to your home.

You can even consider going tankless. There are several advantages to tankless water heaters, like a longer lifespan and lower monthly costs! Make sure to ask for a professional opinion for what’s best in your area too.

Bonus: Water Heater Maintenance Tips

There are a few things you can do to try and make your water heater last longer - or at least last the whole 10 years without the need to do costly repairs. Here’s what you should do:

  • Flush the water heater once or twice a year to minimize sediment buildup
  • Test the pressure relief valve, if it doesn’t release a burst of water into the overflow drain pipe, it’s a sign you need a new valve
  • Lower thermostat temperature to reduce damages from overheating, your thermostat should be 120 degrees
  • Install a water softener to reduce sediment buildup

Have you found out the problem with your water heater? Get a free quote from a professional service!

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