- Why Won’t My Water Heat Up?
- Repair Cost Breakdown
- New Water Heater Cost
- Should I Repair or Replace?
- Water Heater Maintenance
In Arizona and throughout the Valley of the Sun, most homes are equipped with a water heater that is powered by natural gas, electricity, or heat pump. The following information covers the different types of water heaters that you can buy and ones that we most often service. In addition, we discuss ways to maintain your water heater, what to do if yours breaks or leaks, and the most popular brands on the market.
Water Heater Repair
Depending on the type of water heater your home has, you can expect it to last between 6 and 13 years. Any industry pro will tell you that any length of time over 12 years is borrowed time. So expect your well-maintained water heating unit to last about 10 years, give or take a year or two.
How Does a Water Heater Fail?
Fortunately, when a water heater begins to give out, there are several warning signs that it will give off. If you experience any of these problems, you may have to call in an expert:
- Water never gets past lukewarm
- Water is cold and never heats up
- Water heater makes strange rumbling or humming sounds
- Water is discolored – rusty or muddy
- Water has a metallic taste or odor
- Water is visibly leaking from around the heating unit
6 Main Causes of Water Heater Failure
Now that you’re aware of the telltale signs of a failing water heater, here are the six most common causes of them.
#1 Sediment Buildup
When the water is heated, mineral deposits separate and settle at the base of your water heater. This sediment continuously builds up over time, reducing the efficiency of your water heater and eventually forcing the tank to stop working.
Households that have hard water are worse off when it comes to water heater sediment.
Prevent sediment damage in water storage units by flushing debris out at least once every year or two. Traditional, standing water heaters have a spigot that a standard hose connects to for convenience.
Rust is an age-old problem, but when it comes to a traditional water heater the anode rod acts like a secret weapon against it.
An anode rod is a long metal rod, usually made of magnesium or aluminum around the core of a steel wire. The rod is inserted into the storage water heating tank, where it’s designed to slowly degrade. As long as the anode rod in the tank is being degraded, the metallic lining of the tank is being protected from rust.
As part of your maintenance routine, you should check your anode rod annually and while they can last up to seven years, expect to replace your rod every three to five.
#3 High Water Pressure
If your home has high water pressure it may be too high and potentially damaging to certain fixtures, pipes, and appliances. If the water pressure is the issue with your heater, you will most likely see water leaking out of the unit’s overflow pipe.
Fortunately, water pressure can be regulated and if your temperature and pressure (T&P) valve is not working properly, it’s a quick fix with a replacement part.
As mentioned, with proper maintenance, you can get about 10 years out of your water heater. Therefore, if you’re experiencing cold or lukewarm water and your tank is pushing its life expectancy, it may be time to consider replacing it.
As with just about everything, age takes its toll on a water heater’s parts and eventually wear will get the best of seals, pipes, connectors, and valves.
The good news is that if your water heater is old, your new unit will be exponentially more efficient – saving money on your energy bill.
#5 Wrong Size
If your water heater is too big for your needs, you don’t have much to worry about other than spending more to heat your household’s water than you should. On the other hand, if your water heater is too small, this can be a major problem.
If your water heater isn’t big enough to carry the load and meet the demand, it will have to work overtime. An overworked water heater is prone to breaking down and will rarely make it through its anticipated life span.
Before buying a new heater, consult with a plumbing professional who can assist with calculating the home’s hot water demand and choosing an appropriate machine.
#6 Corrosive Fumes
Water heaters draw in air for the combustion function to occur; however, if that air is contaminated with corrosive fumes, such as those from bleach and ammonia, there is a chance that it will corrode core components of the tank.
Keep these items and any other chemicals far away from your water tank.
How Much Does a Water Heater Cost to Repair?
According to HomeAdvisor, the 2021 national average cost for water heater repair is $575. The range is between $218 and $941 depending on the type of repair that is required.
It’s important to note the main three factors that influence the cost of a repair:
- Price of the part(s)
- Time it takes to repair/replace (hourly rate)
- Flat fee for a specific repair, inspection, or service call
There may be additional costs associated with a repair, as with a newly installed water heater, including removal of debris and expired equipment, correcting existing plumbing to get it up to code, and replacement of deteriorated piping.
Cost of Parts
While some plumbing companies mark up their wholesale cost of parts, Northern Air Mechanical Services does not. We do not expect you to pay us more for the same part(s) you can buy at your local hardware store for less.
Flat Fees & Average Repair Costs
Below is a breakdown of the average fees we charge for different types of water heater repairs.
- Inspection / Repair Assessment ($45-$150)
- Service Call / Maintenance ($45-$150)
- Thermostat Replacement ($50-$100)
- Tripped Breaker ($20 per Fuse)
- Pilot Light Out ($45-$150)
- Pressure Relief Valve ($200)
- New Anode Rod ($150)
- New Dip Tube ($150)
- Tank Flush Out ($200)
- Leaking Unit ($500-$1,000)
New Water Heaters
When it comes to buying a new water heater, you have two main options – tank or tankless. A water heater with a tank is a traditional unit that stores hot water for when it’s needed. A tankless unit, on the other hand, is an on-demand water heater in which the water is instantaneously heated when hot water is required.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost for installing a water heater is $1,177. The lowest being around $800 and the highest at over $1,500. These prices vary significantly based on the cost of the unit.
Tankless Water Heaters
Instant water heaters are typically priced based on the number of gallons per minute (GPM) it can heat and its British thermal unit (BTU) capability. The higher the GPM and BTU, the more expensive a tankless unit is.
6 – 8 GPM units range from around $700 to $900 (not including installation).
9 – 12 GPM units range from about $1,000 to $1,700 (for higher-end models).
Tank Water Heaters
Water heaters with tanks, as mentioned above, are available in either gas or electric-powered models. Both types of water heaters are priced on the capacity, which is measured in gallons.
30- to 40-gallon tanks cost between $300 and $600. However, there are higher-end units that can cost as much as $1,000 or more.
A 50-gallon unit can cost as little as $500 and as much as $1,500 on average.
80-gallon-plus water heaters are priced from around $1,500 to $3,500. However, higher-end units can cost upwards of $5,000 to $7,000.
Labor & Additional Expenses
In addition to the cost of the water heater itself, you have to take into account the labor that goes into removing the old unit and installing the new one, how accessible the space is, and disposal of the old uni (if applicable).
Similarly, if old piping or fixtures need to be replaced, there may be an additional fee for this.
In regards to the labor that goes into installing a new unit, the average number of hours it takes is two to three. However, please keep in mind that every job is different and the time it takes to complete a job can vary.
Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater?
If your water heater is 10 years old or close to it, you are better off putting your money towards a new unit. Even if a repair fee is a fraction of the cost of a new unit, how many more repairs will need to be made and how much longer will the unit continue to work before you’re forced to buy a new one?
If your water heater is only a few years old and needs inexpensive parts, you should consider opting for repair as it will likely be many more years before another repair call is needed.
Water Heater Maintenance
When it comes to extending the lifespan of your water heater, maintenance is key. Below are the most common maintenance activities required for water heaters with tanks.
How Does a Plumbing Expert Maintain a Water Heater?
Here are the six mains tests and checks plumbing pros check when maintaining a water heater.
Check the Anode Rod
Anode rods are designed to deteriorate and need to be replaced roughly every year, as mentioned above.
Check that the TPR Valve Works
The pressure relief valve is typically attached to a copper pipe on the side of the unit and a bucket is required to catch the water.
Drain the Tank
Sediment gathers at the bottom of the tank and should be flushed out when performing annual maintenance.
Check the Temp
If the energy bill seems high, you can save upwards of five percent on your water heating bill for every 10 degrees the temperature is lowered.
Check the Pipe Insulation
Insulation keeps water warmer longer and without it or with deteriorated foam, you could be paying more than you need to for hot water.
Check the Tank Insulation
Similar to insulating the pipes, wrapping the tank in specialized insulation is a great way to keep the water in the tank hot longer and requiring less energy to keep it hot.