3 Signs that you need to replace your water heater

Gas or electric tankless water heaters offer homeowners increased efficiency and lower utility bills, but that doesn’t mean that everybody is ready to hop on the bandwagon. Old habits can be hard to shake, and traditional water heaters have been the go-to option for home water heating ever since they emerged into the market.

Your old water heater tucked away in the basement certainly had its time in the sun, but now most models are prone to problems that can significantly impact the water quality throughout your home. You might have been able to ignore the problem for this long, but it’s about time to start acknowledging that your home is telling you to replace your old heater with a tankless water heater. Keep an eye out for these three signs that your home is burning money on an old or broken heater.

1. Fluctuating temperatures

If you’re anything like the next person, you hate fiddling with the controls of a new or unfamiliar shower. It can be so hard to get the right temperature for a soothing and invigorating morning rinse, but when your traditional water heater can’t even provide a continuous flow of hot water for your morning routines, it’s time to take a second look.

Rapid changes in temperature could be a sign of several problems with the heater. First, traditional models heat and hold a large volume of water in a reservoir. For most people, this is a sufficient amount of water for a shower in the morning, but if you like to take longer showers or you have an entire family drawing on one water supply, the heated store is depleted very quickly.

This leaves your heater to warm room temperature or cooler water as it’s being sent off to the sink, bath or washing machine, which results in unevenly heated water.

Aside from design flaws of traditional heaters, your unit may suffer from a broken or inefficient heating element as well. If you find your water constantly cooler than you like, your heater might not have enough left in the tank to heat water as quickly as it once did.

2. Loud noises

Most old houses make settling noises during the winter as the entire structure contracts from the cold, but loud banging noises from your heater should be immediate cause for concern. Depending on the design of your model, the heating elements might be misfiring or charged with too much energy so that expansion causes odd noises to come from the heater. This is a serious problem and could cause long-term damage to your home if not addressed.

Most noises that come from traditional heaters are caused by mineral buildup. Sediment naturally accretes into large, solid pieces in these appliances, and the materials are whipped around the tank when heat is applied. Aside from causing internal structural damage, when sediment comes into contact with the heating element, this can create unpleasant noises and smells from the material’s combustion.

Once there’s enough sediment in your heater, everything from temperature to flow rate could take a turn for the worse.

3. Age

There are a million little processes that can wrong with traditional heaters, but there’s one thing that almost every model can’t avoid – age. The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper explained that traditional heaters only last between 10 and 15 years, and even those numbers might be generous.

When units approach this date, they grow more inefficient over time, so while you think you might be saving some money by squeezing a few more months of life out of your heater, you might actually be spending more than you need just to keep it running.

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