It can be easy to think that your hot water system will last forever, especially if there’s no obvious sign that it’s malfunctioning. However, while most hot water units can and do live a very long time, there will come a point where it is no longer functional, or it becomes unsafe to use. A malfunctioning hot water unit may leak natural gas, or carbon monoxide, so it’s important to be aware of the signs. JCS plumbing has many years of experience in gas fitting and hot water units, and in determining the health and lifespan of hot water units. Here is our best advice on how to assess your hot water unit.
How long should a water heater last?
Most hot water units can last more than ten years, so if you find your system is malfunctioning, you may be able to repair it rather than replace it. However, after the ten year mark, it may be more sensible to replace the entire unit, as problems will likely continue to crop up even after repair. So, when you purchase your home, it’s a good idea to try to find out how old your hot water unit is, and to keep track of its age over time. That way if a problem arises, you can decide how best to proceed with repair or replacement.
What are the signs of deterioration?
Most hot water units do make a noise, but it is usually a consistent hum or gentle hiss. You will likely be familiar with the sound of your hot water system in operation as usual. New sounds can be the result of sedimentation building up within the unit. This can greatly reduce the efficiency of the unit, meaning you are paying more for less hot water. It’s worth having a plumber assess your unit in this case.
Rusty or brown coloured water
While strange-coloured water may be an indication of an issue with the pipes, possible even the mains water pipes, it may be the result of your hot water system deteriorating. However, if you find the water changes colour only when it is hot, it’s a fair sign something in the hot water unit itself is deteriorating.
Leaking from the unit
Leaking water from the unit itself is certainly a sign of loss of integrity of the unit, and if the unit is old, may not be worth repairing, as other points will fail in future. A water leak means you are losing water that should arrive at your tap or shower, and is therefore very inefficient. (Also read: What To Do When You Have a Gas Leak)
Water isn’t hot
If you turn the hot water on full blast and you’re still getting tepid water, this is a good indication your hot water system is failing. This may be fixable, but depending on the age of the unit, it may continue to be an issue. A qualified plumber will be able to determine the best course.