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Is it Time to Replace Your Water Heater?

Waiting to replace and upgrade your hot water heater may be more expensive in the long run

Posted 07:41 July 08, 2017
Last Updated 08:39 November 17, 2017

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A conventional hot water heater (one that uses a storage tank) lasts around 10-12 years. There are many factors that affect your water heater's lifespan. How often do you maintain it by flushing the tank and replacing the anode rod? How hard is your water? How good is the build quality of the unit? The answers to these questions determine if your hot water heater lasts 5, 10, or 20 or more years.

Tankless hot water heaters can last considerably longer. Some companies offer lifetime warranties against their product ever leaking. However, tankless systems aren't for everyone. They make the most sense for households that don't have very large water demands. This is usually households of 7 people or less.

Hot Water Heater Repair

The reasons conventional water heaters fail are numerous. Sediment deposits (hard water) can gather and form at the bottom of the tank. If you hear popping sounds when your burners ignite, that's a telltale sign that you have sediment buildup. Water heater thermostats are known to malfunction or fail completely. If your dip tube breaks, incoming cold water can mix with outgoing hot water. If the relief valve fails and there is thermal expansion within the tank, there is an explosion hazard. These issues can lead to excessively hot water, a loss of hot water, or plumbing damage.

If the problems your water heater has aren't too severe it can likely be repaired. Carefully consider your options when you decide to repair a hot water heater and always use a professional. Depending on the severity of your water heater's problems, it may be better to buy a new unit.

Hot Water Heater Replacement

If you've made the decision to replace your hot water heater you've now got another decision to make. Do you buy another conventional water heater or a tankless hot water heater? Tankless systems last longer, are more energy efficient, and are safer (they do not pose an explosion hazard). However, they are more expensive initially. They cost more upfront and cost more to install. However, because they last longer and use less energy they are less expensive in the long run. Consider these two common scenarios:
Buy a conventional 50 gallon gas hot water heater
• Price including installation: $950
• Energy cost per year: $235*
• Lifespan: 10 years
• Total cost per year: $330

Buy a 9 gallon per minute tankless hot water heater
• Price including installation: $2,500
• Energy cost per year: $140*
• Lifespan: 20 years
• Total cost per year: $265

* Based on 64 gallons of water used per day and a price per therm of $0.93 (the US national average). Energy factor for the conventional system is 0.59. Energy factor for the tankless system is 0.93.

Over time the tankless hot water heater is cheaper through longer service life and lower energy usage. A tankless system may last far beyond its expected service life. It may last 30 or more years.

Tankless Hot Water Heaters

Tankless hot water heaters have numerous benefits:

• They last longer. A tankless system can last 20 – 30+ years.

• They are very energy efficient.

• They provide hot water on demand.

• They are more compact and can be installed almost anywhere.

• They may be eligible for a federal or state tax rebate, further reducing costs.

• They take up less space.

• They are safer. They do not pose an explosion hazard.

• They do not pose a flood hazard. If they fail, there is no tank to flood 50 gallons of water into your home.

• They are less expensive over time.

Tankless water heaters have a few drawbacks:

• They are more expensive upfront (but less expensive over time).

• They have special venting requirements and may require a larger diameter natural gas line (This is reflected in the higher installation cost).

• They are rated in GPM (gallons per minute). The more simultaneous hot water you need in your home, the bigger (more expensive) of a unit you need.

There are also some neutral factors. Factors that vary based on your usage, and may be either positive or negative:

• If you use less water than the average household (64 gallons per day), your energy savings will increase. If you use more water than average, your energy savings will decrease.

• If you use less water than the average household you can purchase a cheaper unit (less than 9 GPM). If you use more, you will need to purchase a more expensive unit (11 GPM, 15 GPM, or more).


Today, tankless hot water heaters are great alternatives to conventional hot water heaters. They've been around now for over 20 years and the technology has come a long way. They're dependable, energy efficient, and cost less over time. All Trades in Las Vegas, Nevada can help you decide if a tankless system is right for you. We are plumbing professionals and here to serve you.

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