6 Reasons To Replace Your Hot Water Heater Before It Fails

While some people wait until their boiler dies, before buying a new one, it’s not a good idea. A boiler failure, whether expected or sudden, is not only inconvenient, but it can cause significant damage to your home. 

6 Reasons To Replace Your Hot Water Heater Before It Fails

There are at least six reasons to replace your hot water heater before it fails.

#1 You’ll Minimize Time Without Hot Water

Waiting until your water heater fails before you replace it means you will be under pressure while you find a plumber, an appropriate and cost-effective heater, and arrange for it to be delivered and fitted.

If you plan ahead and replace your hot water heater before it fails, you’ll have the time to research possible replacements, find out what would be the best model for your home and family, and track down an example at the best possible price.

You will also have time to check out plumbers, ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations, read online reviews, ask a few for quotes and book a time for the installation that is convenient for you.

Alternatively, if you wait until your hot water heater fails before you fit a new one, you’ll have to find a replacement in a hurry and may not find the best option for your home and family’s needs.

You and your family members will be unable to take a shower or a bath, the soap won’t lather up when you wash your hands, and it’s highly likely that, unless you have cold water laundry detergent, your clothes won’t come out of the washer particularly clean and fresh.

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but trust me, by day two of boiling the kettle for every drop of hot or warm water, the process wears pretty thin. Even having access to someone else’s laundry and hygiene facilities means having to travel to do the basics that you’re used to getting through without thinking. 

#2 You’ll Avoid Damage

Waiting until your water heater breaks down before you buy a new one increases the risk that your home will suffer additional damage.

These issues range from minor inconveniences, such as replacing a small piece of flooring near the heater because of a drip, to serious flooding as a result of complete heater rupture.

And it doesn’t stop there. Unlikely though it is, a slow drip from your water heater has the potential to cause dampness, and consequently, mold in the fabric of your home. This can result in significant damage to the health of you and your family.

#4 You’ll Have Time To Choose The Right Replacement

Google the words “water heater,” and you’ll find somewhere around 294,000,000 results. Make the search more specific, and Google “what water heater should I buy?” and you’ll narrow the results down to 207,000,000. And that’s not including the ads.

My point is, there is an overwhelming number of water heaters available, and to choose the right one for your home and family, takes time. Not only that, but you have to find the money for the heater, probably when it’s not a good time for you, and pay top dollar.

Alternatively, you could take your time to choose a new water heater that meets your family’s needs, works for your home, and buy it when you have a chance to work the expense into your budget.

#4 You’ll Save Money

Talking of budgets, replacing your water heater before it fails will save you money in numerous ways:

  1. More Bang For Your Buck:  When you plan to buy a water heater, as opposed to having to buy it during a moment of crisis, you can take your time and choose the heater that ticks the most boxes for you in relation to how much money you have available.  
  2. Shop The Sales: If there is no hurry to buy your new hot water heater today, you can take your tie, shop around between outlets, and wait for sales and deals. Buying your water heater at a discount will give you more money for something else. 
  3. Lower Energy Costs: An inefficient hot water heater will be using more energy to heat less water. Consequently, your energy bills will increase, and if you leave it long enough, this extra cost can add up to hundreds of dollars. 
  4. Save Money On Plumbers: A sudden catastrophic failure of your water heater might see you calling out an emergency plumber. Add the word emergency to any professional call, and you also add dollars.

    Call out fees can be between $100 – $300 or more, and hourly rates usually go from standard to time and a half, double-time, or triple time, depending on when the call out happens.

    Even without emergency call-out fees, you could incur higher costs if you wait to replace your hot water heater. If your failing heater has caused damage to other hardware, you have to pay your plumber to repair them.

    Finally, when you have the time to select a good plumber, you can factor price into your decision. When you have to find someone quickly, whether or not they charge an affordable rate usually comes in second to when they are available. 
  5. Avoid Unnecessary Repair Bills: I am the first person to advocate, wherever possible,  trying to have an item repaired before you replace it. However, there comes a time when the phrase “throwing good money after bad” comes into play.

    Replacing your water heater before it fails will ensure you don’t end up paying for repairs that are no longer cost-effective. 
  6. Don’t Pay For Peripheral Repairs: Installing a new hot water heater before the old one fails means you can avoid the expense of additional repairs to your home caused by the sudden failure of your boiler.

#5 You’ll Enjoy Better Water Quality

The chances are high that there are absolutely zero water quality issues caused by your water heater.

However, if you have a hot water heater that is beginning to rust inside, you may notice rusty specks or a general discoloration of your water. To tell whether this is coming from your water heater, run your cold faucet for 60 seconds, then fill a glass. Next, run your hot faucet for 60 seconds and fill a glass. If only the hot water is discolored, the problem’s your hot water heater.

According to Cleveland Water, sediment at the bottom of your water heater can cover the heating element and reduce the water temperature. This, in turn, can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria, which gives your water a rotten egg smell.

#6 You’ll Save Energy

Not only does a sediment covered element make your water smell gross, but it will also use more energy. In fact, an entire range of problems can cause your water heater to suck up more energy than it used to.

The first sign that your hot water heater is becoming less energy efficient is usually when you run the taps, and the hot water seems to run out more quickly than usual. This is not necessarily an issue with the tank’s volume, but more than the water is not being heated to a high enough temperature.

If you do not notice any other problems, alarm bells should sound if you have not been using significantly more energy, that you are aware of, but your utility bills have started to climb. 

5 Signs Your Water Heater May Be Ready To Fail

So, how do you know it might be time to consider a new water heater? These are my top 5  signs your water heater may be ready to fail.

#1. It’s Over 10 Years Old

The average hot water heater is expected to last between 10 and 15 years. Once your unit is over ten years old, the chance of it failing increases as each year that passes.

#2. Rust In Your Water

If you find specks or you notice a rusty discoloration in your water, there is a possibility your water heater is suffering from corrosion.

#3 You’re Getting Less Hot Water

If nothing else has changed and your hot water seems to be running out more quickly, or is not as hot as it was, there is likely an issue with the heating element. This will, at the very least, require repair.

#4 Your Utility Bills Are Higher

If your utility bills have gone up a noticeable amount without an increase in the use of, or the cost of energy, then it could be your hot water heater is becoming less efficient. 

#5 Water Around Your Tank

If you find even the smallest drop of water under your hot water tank, investigate further. Sometimes this is the symptom of a small issue that can be fixed, and sometimes it’s the first sign of an imminent rupture.

Final Thoughts

A water heater should last somewhere between 10 and 15 years, although there’s every possibility it could last much longer.


If you experience any of the warning signs that your hot water heater may be failing, be sure to get a qualified plumber in to take a look as soon as possible. Dealing with minor issues before they become major issues will extend the life of your heater.

If your plumber advises you to consider a new water heater, begin looking for a replacement straight away. That doesn’t mean you have to replace it immediately, but it does mean you can be prepared and plan for a new one in your own time and it also gives you the opportunity to investigate instant hot water heaters.



Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

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