Should I Repair or Replace my Water Heater?

What to do when the time comes (or before).

First things first: Chances are, your water heater is working just fine. I'm not here to jinx any of your working appliances, only to prepare you for their eventual demise. 


That's not as uplifting as I was aiming for… 


We can all agree that at some point in the future your water heater will start acting up or even die. This outcome is unavoidable. So, let’s go ahead and figure out what you should do when something goes wrong. 


 Some water heater issues are easily fixed… 

…like adjusting the tank's temperature dial if the water is too hot or cold, relighting the pilot light, or tightening loose valves. These are things you can fix yourself or call us to repair for you. (You can always call us at (925) 872-0805.)


 Some demand replacement… 

…like a leaky or corroded tank. 


 Some just aren't worth the expense… 

…like a decrease in hot water coupled with an increase in your utility bill. 


If you are like most people, you may not have any idea what the problem is, but you know there's going to be money involved. 


Is it even worth it to call a plumber out for an estimate?


This feels like one of those dreaded word problems back in math class: if a water heater is 7 years old, no longer under warranty, and needs $800 worth of repairs, is it cheaper to fix it or replace it? 


Ugh. 


Let me give you an oversimplified cost-benefit analysis on repairing a water heater. Here are some important averages you should know: 


  • Lifespan of a tank-style water heater: 8 to 12 years. 
  • Cost of a water heater repair for Tri-Valley homeowners: $672. 
  • Cost of a tank-style water heater and installation: $2,000. If you use it for 10 years, you can view that cost as $200 per year. 


Now, let’s create an example repair scenario. Let’s assume:


  • Your 7-year-old water heater needs to be repaired.
  • The repair will be the average cost of $672. 
  • Your water heater will last 10 years before complete failure.


With three years left in the average lifespan of your water heater, you're likely only going to get another $600 worth of use out of it ($200 per year x 3 years = $600). Why would you spend $672 to get $600 worth of life out of it?


So where does this leave you? I suggest you do three things right now:


  1. Download our homeowner water heater checklist. It will take you less than 10 minutes to get a better understanding of the health of your water heater.
  2. Create a savings plan based on how long your water heater should last. Use the average lifespan of 8 to 12 years. 
  3. Cross your fingers. 



Or, you could invest in a new water heater. This might be the smartest choice, especially right now when you can upgrade from a traditional tank water heater to a high-efficiency water heater and benefit from a variety of rebates. 


High-efficiency hybrid water heaters last longer than traditional tank water heaters, with an average lifespan of ten to 15 years. Plus, it will significantly decrease your monthly energy costs, and its reduced energy use is good for the planet. 


Again, you may not be ready for a new water heater, but I don’t want you to miss the savings offered by current rebates. Call us at (925) 872-0805 and ask to be placed on our High-Efficiency Hybrid rebate wait list. 


It's a win-win. Be prepared for the eventual demise of your water heater and invest in a better, more energy-efficient future. 


Here’s my personal promise to you: When you call or schedule an on-site estimate — whether for a repair or a replacement — there will be no pressure. No obligation. We will not sell you a water heater you don’t need or want.


Questions? Give us a call at (925) 872-0805.


Thanks for letting us be your trusted plumber.

Phil Barnett
President of Barnett Plumbing & Water Heaters