Your water heater is most likely one of the devices you least think about in your home. But if something goes wrong, it will be taken care of very quickly, and this becomes even more urgent in the winter months. Here are 10 things you need to know about your water heater.
1. Watch for Problems: Early signs of water heater problems that require professional repair include odors in the water, rust-colored water, lack of hot water, and temperature fluctuations. It’s good to catch problems early because the average water heater repair cost is $600 and the sooner you find the problem, the more cost-effective repairs will be.
2. Check it regularly: Conduct a thorough inspection of your heater every two months. Remove debris, make sure it is properly ventilated, check the drain pan and empty it if necessary, and look for burn marks on the bottom of the heater.
3. Drain and Flush Annually: Sediment buildup poses a danger to tank heaters. Drain and flush every year to prevent it from damaging and potentially destroying your heater. A professional can do the job for an average of $75 to $200.
4. Tank or tankless?: Traditional tank water heaters heat a large amount of water and keep it in a tank as a reserve. Instantaneous water heaters heat the water flowing through. Tankless takes up less space but costs more to install.
5. Water Heater Cost: A tank water heater costs about $1,300 to install and has a lifespan of 8 to 12 years. A tankless water heater costs an average of $2,400, but you can expect it to last 20 years.
6. Shutoff Valve: All water heaters should have shutoff valves to block the flow of water or gas in the event of a leak. Make sure you identify these valves in advance. A lot of water can spill in the seconds you spend trying to find it elsewhere.
7. Other Types: Tank and tankless water heaters are by far the most common models. But you can also look for condensing, solar, heat pump or point-of-use water heaters, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.
8. Smart Water Heater: Like so many other appliances, water heaters have entered the digital age. A smart water heater monitors consumption and uses energy more efficiently, and you can control and check it from your phone.
9. Repair or Replace: If you are having problems with a tank-style water heater and it is more than 10 years old, replacing it is probably the best idea. Rumbling noises, cloudy water and leaks are other signs that should be replaced soon.
10. Licensing: Licensing for water heater installers varies by state, but typically you’ll need a licensed plumber to do the work. Depending on the type of heater, you may also need a licensed gas pipe installer.