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Don’t wait to replace your water heater until it breaks. The water heater is an appliance that too often is taken for granted. As long as it gives you hot water when you need it, it must be working fine. Right?

Not so fast. What you might not realize until that time when it breaks is just how much you rely on it. Then the time comes and you suddenly find you have no hot water. Worse is that you have a messy leak and potential water damage.

Before it breaks understand some of the signs that warn you it’s time for replacement.

Your water heater is nearing 10 years.

It is true that they are long-lasting appliances, but like everything they have a lifespan and can break. Conventional water heaters that are approximately 10 years are generally considered due for replacement. This is a general age; if it hasn’t been maintained it could break after closer to 8 years. The benefit of knowing that your water heater is aging is that you can prepare in advance. Take some time to evaluate your options. There are different types of units. Besides the conventional storage tank units, there are more efficient types such as tankless units and those heated by solar energy or heat pumps.

Your hot water doesn’t seem to last that long.

When appliances get old they become less efficient. Check the temperature first to make sure it is set properly. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting it to 120 °F. Be careful not to set it too high and remember to turn it back from the vacation setting if you have been away. If the temperature is set properly and it still is not producing much hot water, you could have a problem with parts like your thermostat, valves and thread connections. Fixing problems might help the issue but still won’t make the appliance operate like new. There is a point when it will become more cost effective to purchase a new model that is more energy efficient.

You think your water heater might explode.

When you have excess sediment in your tank and it begins to overheat, you might hear a rumbling or popping noise. If the noise continues after you drain your tank, your tank has overheated. Although your local plumbing might be able to repair the tank by replacing parts, it won’t work as efficiently and the damage will put more wear on the tank. You also want to keep an eye out for small leaks. Once leaks form in your tank replace it immediately.

You have rust in your hot water.

Although this could be caused from galvanized pipes, rust in your hot water and not your cold water could be a sign that your water heater is rusting away. A test is to drain your water heater to see if it clears the rust (probably after the third bucket). Be careful because the water is scalding hot.

You have water leaking around your tank.

You should periodically inspect around your tank unit to make sure there are no leaks. If you see water around the tank, this could be a sign of a leak or small fractures in your unit. Before jumping the gun, check to make sure your temperature/pressure overflow pipe is not leaking. Also check to make sure you don’t have leaks coming from fittings and connections.

Don’t wait for your water heater to break. If you recognize these signs, it may be time to replace your water heater. High Priority Plumbing provides repairs and new installations for all types of units. Call us at 770.860.8110 in Atlanta or 912.373.7707 in Savannah.