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Replacing A Hot Water System

Before you consider replacing a hot water system… Read our guide

Are you thinking about replacing a hot water system? Have you checked your hot water system? If not, do you remember the last time you properly inspected your hot water system? If you answered “no” to both these questions, then you are not alone. Many people take their hot water system for granted, until one day when they get up to have a hot shower and are greeted by a blast of cold water. If you do not regularly check up on your hot water system, then you may not know when to replace it. In this article I am going to give you some ideas as to what you should look for when deciding whether to replace your hot water system or not.

Should you try to repair your hot water system or replace it?

The first question you need to ask yourself is “whether you should try and replace your hot water system or not”? The first thing to look for your hot water system’s life expectancy. Most commercial hot water system’s have a lifespan of 8-10 years. If your hot water systems is over its life expectancy, do not bother trying to fix it and squeeze a couple more years out of it, get a replacement ASAP. If your hot water system is under 10 years old, but you are still not sure if it needs to be replaced, here are 4 signs that your hot water system needs to be replaced rather than repaired:

#1: You see lots of rust and/or corrosion

Most water tanks are made of steel, which will eventually rust. Periodically check your water tank for rust or corrosion. A little bit of rust is to be expected on older tanks and is not a big concern, but if you see a large amount of rust or corrosion damage then you will need to replace the tank. Pay special attention to your taps and shower heads, if rust comes through those, then it is likely that your water tank is starting to rust. On the water tank, keep an eye out for rust near the pressure relief valve, the temperature valve, or the water inlet connection; if you see rust near those locations, then you know your water tank is on its last legs. A rusty tank is very liable to leak, and leaking water can cause thousands of dollars of damage; so make sure you get that replacement tank quickly.

#2: You cannot drain the hot water system with the drain valve

Occasionally draining your water tank is a good way of extending its lifespan. But, if you go to drain your hot water system, but then notice it is not draining, then you have a big issue on your hands. Sediment naturally builds up in hot water systems, it usually is not a big deal, but sometimes the sediment can clog the drainage valve. An easy way to check for sediment build up is to listen closely to your hot water system when it is working, if you hear any banging or rumbling, then there is a good chance you have a large sediment build up in your hot water system. You can try to clear the sediment yourself, or you can call a plumber to do it for you. But, if the sediment problem has gotten really bad, then you will simply have but to go about replacing a hot water system.

#3: Your hot water system has started to leak

Coming down into your basement and seeing water everywhere is a nightmare scenario, but unfortunately, a somewhat common occurrence. If your hot water system has begun to leak, then it is likely that there is some serious internal damage. A leaking hot water system is pretty much never repairable, so if you have a leaking hot water system, then it is time to start looking for a new one. In the meantime, turn off your water and turn off your hot water system to prevent further damage.

#4: Your water is not being heated properly

Have you noticed that your water is not as hot as usual? Or worse, is it completely ice cold no matter how far to the left you turn your faucet? Does your hot water only last for a minute or two before going cold? If so, then your hot water system is likely on its last legs. Your hot water system not working is likely an indication that something is wrong with the heating element or thermostat. It is also possible that you are using more hot water and your tank is unable to keep up with the increased demand; it is also possible that some sediment or blockage is reducing the performance of your hot water system. Either way, you will likely have to be replacing a hot water system or looking into repairing the old one.

#5: The pilot light will not stay lit

If the pilot light on your hot water system randomly shuts off, then your hot water system likely has an issue with either its thermocouple or its gas valve. The thermocouple is meant to be around half an inch into the pilot flame, but sometimes it can get snagged on a broom or something when you are cleaning around the hot water system; if this is the case, then it is easily fixed. However, if there is a more serious problem with either the thermocouple or the gas valve (for example, if they somehow got seriously damaged) then you are likely going to have to get a new hot water system.

#6: The anode rod is damaged or rusted

The anode rod is an aluminum or magnesium rod that is meant to protect your hot water system from corroding. Every commercial hot water system will have at least 1, and many will have 2. The rod is screwed into the top of the hot water system. You should make sure that you are regularly checking your anode rod. If you have not replaced your anode rod in around 5 years, then your hot water system will start to corrode and rust at an accelerated rate. So, if you do not know what I am talking about, or cannot remember the last time you checked on your anode rod, then you should go check your hot water system ASAP, otherwise your hot water system is living on borrowed time.

If all else fails, it’s probably time to think about replacing a hot water system with a new one

Read our hot water buying guide for even more information