If your hot water heater breaks down, you have a big choice to make: Should you have it repaired or replace it altogether? Will it be worth it to have it fixed, or will you get greater value over the long run if you buy a new one and have it installed? The right choice will depend on a few different factors.

How Old Is Your Water Heater?

How old is your current water heater? Most water heaters have a life span of about ten years. If your water heater hasn’t been replaced in a decade or more, replacing it is probably going to be the wisest choice. On the other hand, if you have a newer water heater you’ve been happy with, you may want to have it repaired instead.

Some hot water heaters have longer life spans than others. The Department of Energy estimates the life expectancy of a tankless coil and indirect water heater is roughly ten years, while a storage tank or heat pump will likely last from ten to fifteen years. Solar water heaters last about 20 years, and tankless water heaters can keep working even longer.

A variety of factors affect the life span of a water heater, such as its location, the type and frequency of maintenance performed, and how often it’s been drained and flushed. Ten years is the general rule of thumb, but if your tank gets corroded or rusted before it’s that old, it should probably be replaced. 

Have You Been Satisfied with Your Water Heater’s Effectiveness?

As the years have passed since your water heater was installed, your needs may have changed. Do you use the same amount of hot water you did when the unit was new? If you’ve added family members to your household, you’re undoubtedly using more water for bathing and laundry, so you may need a bigger tank to accommodate all that extra water use. Conversely, if family members have moved away from home, you could be wasting money by heating water you don’t need.

Were you satisfied with the performance of your water heater before your current problem arose? Has there always been plenty of hot water for your needs, and did the water heat up fast enough? If you’ve already been dealing with issues like having to wait several minutes for the water to get hot enough or you’ve had to schedule family showers around the availability of hot water, it’s probably time to replace your water heater. 

What’s the Current Issue with Your Water Heater?

The sort of problem your water heater is experiencing will have a big impact on your decision to repair or replace it. Your first step should be to call a professional who can inspect it and give you an estimate for repair and replacement. If your water heater has a leak, you probably won’t be able to just have it repaired, but if your issue is something else, such as water failing to heat fast enough, repairing it may be the more cost-effective solution. 

How Much Will It Cost?

Cost is usually the deciding factor when you’re having to choose between repairing versus replacing your water heater. As a general rule of thumb, if the cost of repairing it is more than half of what it would cost to replace it, having it fixed probably isn’t worth the money. When you’re comparing the cost of repairs to the expense of replacement, consider these factors: 

  • What’s the total cost of the repairs needed?
  • How much longer will your water heater last if you have it repaired? 
    • If you’re only going to be adding a year or two to the life of your water heater, it might not be worth it. 
  • How much will it cost to buy a new water heater? 
  • How much will it cost to have the new water heater installed?
  • How will maintenance and operating costs differ? 
    • You may save more money in the long run if you invest in a more efficient water heating system, such as a tankless gas water heater.

Repair or Replace?

At the end of the day, several factors will affect your decision to repair or replace your water heater. Before you make your final decision, talk with a knowledgeable professional who can give you recommendations for your unique situation. The professional can explain the benefits and drawbacks of each option, such as tankless water heater pros and cons, and you may learn about types of water heaters you hadn’t been aware of before. 

It’s always best to talk to an expert before you make such a big decision. If your water heater seems like it may be on its last legs, call Arnett’s Water Systems. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you need highly trained professionals to install a whole-house filtration system or a tankless water heater, you can trust us to provide nothing less than exceptional service. Give us a call today at (619) 223-1209 to find out how we can help you make the choice that’s right for you.