5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater

African descent kid enjoying bath tub July 11, 2019

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 18 percent of all energy used in a house goes to heating water, making it the second largest source of energy usage.

Most people can benefit from more information on how to identify when their water heater needs repairs or is about to fail. If ignored until the water heater breaks, homes can be without hot water and, possibly with a flooded basement.

Good news!  You can avoid the disruption and damage of a failing water heater.


Five signs that it may be time to replace your water heater:

1. Leaks or Pools of Water Around the Water Heater Tank – Leaks are never a good sign. Water puddles can be a sign that a valve needs to be tightened or replaced. Leaks and corrosion can also mean that the water heater has reached the end of its life and may be at risk of bursting. Drips and leaks can escalate. Consult with a plumber to see if repairs are possible, or if it is time for a new water heater.

2. Lukewarm Water Even at the Hottest Temperature Setting – Have your showers recently been lukewarm despite having your shower handle at the hottest temperature setting? Is it taking longer to get hot water from the tap? A common sign of a failing water heater is a lack of sufficient hot water. Consult with a plumber to see if the water heater needs flushing or other repairs, or if a water heater replacement is in order.

3. Contaminated Water Coming Out of the Faucet – The contaminated water can come in many different forms:

    • Sandy or muddy water
    • Hot water with a metallic taste or smell
    • Water with rust particles

First, determine if the contamination is in your cold or hot water.  If only hot water is affected, the problem may lie with the water heater.  Flushing the tank’s contents to remove sediment or replacing the sacrificial anode rod may solve this problem. If left unaddressed, this issue can worsen and lead to rust damaging the inside of the tank and ultimately the need for a new water heater. Consult a plumber to see what maintenance or repairs can be done to prolong the life of the water heater.\

4. Repairs Keep Adding Up –Are you calling for repairs to your water heater more than twice a year? If so, start planning your water heater replacement, and avoid the hassle of an emergency replacement.

5. Water Heater is Over 10 Years Old – An important question to ask yourself when deciding to replace your water heater is “How long has the water heater been in my house?” ENERGY STAR recommends replacing your storage water heater if it is over 10 years old. A decline in the performance of the water heater due to age is inevitable. Be proactive and replace it with an ENERGY STAR-certified water heater before it fails.

Water heater replacement may be costly upfront, but upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-certified, energy-efficient water heater can save you more money in long-term. In fact, ENERGY STAR natural gas storage and tankless water heaters use about 10 percent less energy compared to standard gas water heaters and can save your household hundreds of dollars over its lifetime.

Did you know, Washington Gas offers rebates to help you replace old water heaters and upgrade to new high-efficiency models. You can save up to $400 on a new ENERGY STAR certified water heater for your home. Through the Washington Gas Maryland Existing Home Program, Maryland customers can take advantage of natural gas appliance rebates. To qualify, eligible equipment must be purchased and installed by a qualified participating contractor in the Washington Gas EmPOWER Contractor Network. Get started by visiting WashingtonGasRebates.com/MDHome today.

If your contractor doesn’t take away your old hot water heater, make sure to dispose of your old one correctly by scheduling a curbside scrap metal pickup from your home or bringing it to the Transfer Station. Learn more at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/scrapmetal.

Written by Fiona Ryan, Marketing Specialist with Washington Gas, a WGL Company.

10 comments on "5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater"

  1. I didn’t know that you should have your water heater replaced if it is over 10 years old since it can become less efficient over time. My uncle has owned his water heater for at least 13 years, and he isn’t sure if water heaters need to be replaced. I’ll let him know that he should find a service that can replace his water old water heater with one that will function more effectively.

    1. Larissa Johnson says:

      Thank you for spreading the word Stefan. Also, please note that utilities have rebates for water heater replacements so make sure you go to the utilities website for more information.

  2. That was a good point that if your water starts to have a lack of sufficient hot water it might be time for a replacement. I’ve been having a hard time getting my shower as hot as I would like it to be and putting it on the hottest setting doesn’t even help. Maybe I should look into water heater replacement services and get a new system.

    1. Larissa says:

      We are glad that this article was helpful. If you do replace your hot water heater, remember that Montgomery County has a $250 property tax credit program that you could apply to: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Finance/Resources/Files/data/taxes/renewable_energy_tax_credit_application.pdf

  3. I’m glad that you mentioned the reason muddy-looking water coming out of your faucets can be a good indication it’s time to replace your water heater. I was a little alarmed this morning when my sink water was a brownish color! I’ll have to start looking at new gas water heaters and get it taken care of soon so I can take a nice hot shower.

    1. Larissa Johnson says:

      We are so glad that you found this article helpful. Don’t forget that there are rebates available depending on who your utility provider is…if you have Washington Gas, they have some programs available: https://www.washingtongas.com/home-owners/savings/water-heating-rebates-md

      Best of luck,

      DEP Team Energy

  4. Kate Hansen says:

    It was helpful when you said that a sign could be a lack of hot water. Last night my daughter was complaining about how the shower would not get warm even when the shower handle was on the hottest temperature setting. I’ll have to look into calling a plumber to come and inspect it to see what’s wrong.

    1. Larissa Johnson says:

      So glad that you found this blog post helpful. Best of luck with your water heater. We are here if you have additional questions.

      DEP Energy

  5. These are all great reasons to replace a water heater. Having your appliance inspected by an experienced and qualified plumber will go a long way in letting you know what route to take.

    1. Larissa Johnson says:

      Thank you Water Heater Replacement Mason! We couldn’t agree more than working with an experienced and qualified plumber will go a long way in letting you know what route to take! If you have other energy saving tips and tricks, we would love to hear them!

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