Suddenly dealing with a cold shower in the morning? It’s a less than subtle hint you probably need a new water heater.
The bad news is that a new water heater is a major investment. And the good news is you can reduce the cost by doing your research and selecting the most efficient appliance for your needs.
Do You Really Need to Replace Your Water Heater?
The first consideration is figuring out if you actually need a new water heater. If you’re like most homeowners, you seldom look at this appliance, tucked away down in the basement.
It’s time for an inspection. These three signs are wake-up calls, clear indicators something is wrong with your water heater.
Rusty water. Is water coming from the hot water faucet rusty looking? It most likely means the appliance is rusting from the inside. The other possibility is that galvanized pipes are rusting. A plumber can figure out the cause for you.
Strange noises. Do you hear rumbling or banging sounds coming from your water heater? This means that sediment has built up at the bottom of the tank, a problem that is common with old water heaters.
Moisture and dampness around the heater. Water and moisture can mean your water heater is leaking. A plumber can tell you if it is the water heater or the connection causing the problem.
If your tank is over 10 to 15 years old, it has reached its useful lifespan. It’s time to consider replacement, even if you don’t see a leak or hear noises.
Get the Best Price on a New Water Heater
According to a study by Bankrate, new water heaters average slightly over $1,000. That’s a chunk of change from the family budget.
Once you determine that you need a new water heater, you want to choose the right one for your family’s usage. Buying a model that meets your needs is the best way to save money.
The actual cost depends on several considerations, like the type of tank you choose and how much it costs to get it installed. For safety, all water heaters need professional installation.
Here is a look at each of these factors.
You have three choices for powering your new water heater, each with its own pros and cons.
1- Gas. The initial cost is often less with this type of water heater, and the water usually heats up faster. But overall they are less energy efficient than electric.
2- Electric. These are energy efficient, using less overall energy than a gas model. The rate of water flow is slower than gas, which can be irritating if you have a big family.
3- Solar. Because they use the sun as their power source, these models are highly efficient. But cloudy days can make it hard to heat the water you need.
Tank vs. Tankless
A storage water heater is the most common. It stores heated water in its tank, making hot water available whenever you turn on the faucet.
But tankless heaters are becoming more common. Also called on-demand water heaters, they have coils that heat the water when it is needed. Water is heated only when you need it.
Storage water heaters are less expensive to buy and can produce greater volume than tankless units. But a tankless heater takes up less space and is more energy efficient.
It is possible for a trained homeowner to install a water heater. But for most do-it-yourselfers, it isn’t recommended. Unless the job is done correctly, it can be unsafe, cause problems with how it performs, and end up not meeting local regulations.
The cost of installation varies based on several factors:
Labor costs in your area
Type of water heater you select
The state of your plumbing system
What types of permits are needed
6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing Your New Water Heater
You can reduce the cost of your new water heater by doing some research and then selecting the best unit for your needs. These 6 tips can help:
How much hot water do you use? Before you go shopping, figure out how much hot water you and your family uses, especially at times of heavy use in the morning and evening. This includes showers, baths, dishwasher, clothes washer, and general cleaning.
How much space do you have?
What type of hookups does your current plumbing system have?
What type of power supply is readily available?
How much will it cost to switch to a different type of water heater?Changing from electric to gas or solar usually means extra effort and therefore extra cost. The same is true if you switch to a tankless model.
How long does the warranty cover? According to Consumer Reports, water heaters with a longer warranty usually have larger burners or elements, which means faster heating. They also have better insulation, so there is less heat loss.
When it’s time to get a new water heater, get answers to these 6 questions. Armed with this information, you can choose the most suitable water heater for your family.