February 15, 2023
AC Tune-Up in Portland, OR

Having to replace your water heater can be quite expensive, but repairing the unit can also be costly. There are many situations where replacing your water heater is the smarter decision even if the issue can be repaired. Unfortunately, deciding between repair and replacement isn’t always easy, so here are a few of the factors you’ll want to consider when making this decision.

The Age of Your Water Heater

The age of your water heater is obviously one of the most important things to take into account when choosing between having the unit repaired or replaced. After all, it generally doesn’t make sense to spend a few hundred dollars on repairs if your unit is already nearing the end of its life. This is not only because you will likely need to replace the unit soon anyway, but also because older units tend to cost more to operate because they are less efficient and often take much longer to heat.

Gas tank water heaters typically have the shortest lifespan of any type of unit and will usually last for somewhere around eight to 12 years. Electric tank units often have a slightly longer lifespan and may last for 15 years or so. If you have a gas or electric tankless water heater, then you’re in luck since these units will often last for 20 to 30 years. No matter what type of unit you have, we would always recommend you replace it instead of repairing it if it is within a few years of its expected lifespan.

Cost of the Repair

The total estimated cost of the repair can also help you determine whether repairing the unit is worth it. Minor issues like repairing or replacing the pilot light or any of its components or replacing a broken drain or pressure relief valve tend to be fairly inexpensive. As long as your unit has at least a few years of life left, these kinds of repairs typically make sense.

However, if you need a much more major repair, such as replacing a failed electric heating element, you may want to consider simply replacing the entire unit instead. Replacing a heating element will typically cost at least a few hundred dollars and may only extend the life of the unit by a few years. In this case, you may be better to put that money toward the cost of a new unit since it will use less energy and have far fewer repair needs. The fact that your new unit will also come with a warranty is also an important consideration as it means you won’t have to pay the total cost of any repair should something stop working correctly.

Condition of Your Water Heater Tank

Tank water heaters are prone to rust and corrosion, and this can eventually weaken the tank to the point that it develops a leak. In some cases, the tank can suddenly rupture entirely and result in tens of gallons of water rushing out and flooding the surrounding area. Therefore, the condition of the tank is another important consideration as repairing the unit doesn’t make sense if the tank is starting to corrode and is at risk of developing a leak. This is why we would always recommend having the tank inspected before committing to any repairs.

Rust and corrosion are also the reasons that you should always have your water heater professionally inspected and maintained every year. Inside of all tank water heaters is a steel wire known as an anode rod. This wire is coated in zinc, aluminum, or magnesium, and it works to prevent the steel tank from corroding.

Some of the dissolved minerals in your water supply are fairly reactive. When water enters the tank, these minerals would normally react with the steel tank and begin to corrode and eat away at it. The anode rod helps to prevent this from happening as the dissolved minerals will react with and corrode the rod’s metal coating instead of attacking the tank.

In essence, the coating on the rod sacrifices itself and corrodes to ensure the tank itself doesn’t corrode. However, the coating will eventually corrode to the point where there is nothing left, which means the minerals will then start to corrode the tank. This is why the rod needs to be checked regularly and replaced every few years.

At Climate Control, we specialize in water heater repairs and installation. If your water heater has any issues, our team can determine what repairs are needed and help you decide whether repairing the unit makes sense. We install and service both tank and tankless water heaters, and we also offer professional heating and cooling services for residential and commercial customers in Portland and the surrounding areas. For more information or to schedule a water heater inspection, give us a call today.

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