The 7 Signs to Replace Your Gas Water Heater

Failing natural gas water heaters usually aren't noticed until it's too late. Learn the 7 signs that you need to replace yours before it surprises you.

Time for a New Gas Water Heater?

Is your water heater caked with calcium? Learn the signs that it's time to replace your natural gas water heater before it turns into a hot mess.
Calcium and other deposits can destroy water heaters. Learn the 7 signs that’s time to replace yours before it turns into an expensive hot mess.

A few years ago, my family and I moved into an older home. The previous owner lived there for 30 years and hadn’t replaced any appliances. So, we knew we would have to chip away at some big appliance purchases. After a professional visit, we learned that our water heater was more than 15 years old and probably driving up our natural gas bill. Before shelling out the money for a new unit, I dug into a little research on water heaters. Here’s my seven signs you need to replace your gas water heater.

Gas Water Heater Signs of Burnout

Heating water slowly wears out the metal in your water tank. These are the three main signs of burnout:

  1. Cold Water: if your water is not getting hot enough or the hot water doesn’t seem to last long, the heating element of your appliance might be worn out. But, first, make sure to set the heater to at least 120°F and that your pilot is on.
  2. Odd Noises: sediment builds up at the bottom of a water heater tank. Exposure to heat leads the sediment to harden. When this happens, you might hear pops, bangs, or rumbles from the heater. Excessive sediment causes more wear and limits the capacity of your tank.
  3. Frequent Repairs: if you call out a professional to fix your water heater a few times a year, it’s probably not worth the cost. Even if a home warranty covers your costs, a water heater that regularly breaks down is not running efficiently. This leads to overpaying for natural gas in GA.

Watch for Signs of Corrosion

Is your water heater corroded or damaged? Learn the signs of corrosion and sediment buildup below.

  1. Metallic: when hot water has a metallic smell or taste, this is a sign of corrosion in your hot water tank. In fact, you might even notice tiny flakes in the water from the inside of your tank.
  2. Rusty Water: if your hot water is rusty, cloudy, or sandy, your water heater could be to blame. Rust is a sign of tank corrosion while cloudy or sandy water signals a buildup of sediment. If you notice this problem with cold water, however, the source isn’t your hot water heater.
  3. Over 15 Years: Older heaters might seem to work fine but after age 15 they actually cost you more money in energy bills.
  4. Leaks: a pipe leak can happen almost anywhere. But if water pools at the base of your water heater, it’s possible that corrosion caused a leak from the tank. It’s usually impossible to fix, so it’s the ultimate sign you need a new water heater.

What Will a New Heater Cost?

Installed, a new gas water heater will cost about $500-$3000. Depending on size, the average price tag sits close to about $1,000. Compared to other major appliances, it’s a reasonable cost. However, I understand that even a reasonable cost can feel out of reach. So, you should know that water heating accounts for about 20% of energy use in a home. If you’re relying on an old, broken-down water heater for showers and chores, that number could be much higher. All this to say, investing in a new unit is likely to save you money on natural gas costs long term.

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