Water Heaters: Don’t Get Into Hot Water!

What is the best way to raise awareness about the life expectancy of water heaters?

In this popular episode of MythBusters, the two experts test the likelihood of a defective water heater rocketing through the roof of a house and into the atmosphere. This type of event would only happen on a very rare occasion if abnormal pressure were to build up in the tank. (Although very interesting, the show must be taken with a grain of salt.) It’s safe to say that your water heater probably won’t blast through your roof, but this doesn’t mean that you aren’t safe from a flood in your basement. In fact, that’s often where water heaters can be found — hidden and forgotten.

As a rule of thumb in Quebec, it is recommended that you replace yours every 12 years. However, in some regions where water is found to be more acidic, ferrous or rich in minerals, a hole in the tank can appear much earlier — sometimes after only five years. On the other hand, a quality water heater can last up to 15. This means that even if your appliance has a long life expectancy and needs little maintenance, it must not be neglected. By looking out for a few important signs, you can avoid an unfortunate incident from occurring. Below are a few — amongst many — that are an indication of your water heater needing replacement:

For starters, check your water heater’s manufacturing date which can be found on its rating plate. Your appliance’s age is based on the manufacturing date and not the purchase date.

  • If your water seems cloudy or if you see deposits when you let the water run, the source of the problem may lie inside the tank.
  • If you see accumulation of rust at the bottom of your water heater, think of changing it soon! And if your paled coloured clothes come out of the washer with rust-coloured stains, it’s a sign that the inner tank is starting to rust.
  • Another sign that your appliance needs to be replaced soon: moisture. If you can feel a certain moisture or if you can see wetness at the bottom of your water heater, it means you’ll soon need to get a new one!
  • And if it starts to leak — even just a bit — do not wait any longer! You may end up having an unpleasant weekend… And may even need to give Lareau a ring!

Now that you know all the secrets of your old water heater, you may have realized that you need to replace yours. Although in some cases, you can repair or properly maintain the appliance before it causes problems, perhaps it has become all too clear that none of these options apply to you. If you are currently shopping for a new one, here is what you need to consider:

Your water heater’s capacity

You can opt for a 40-gallon or 60-gallon water heater. A 40-gallon is more than enough for two adults, but if you’re a family you’ll need a 60-gallon. Think long term! You can determine the size you need based on the number of rooms in your home. For instance, even if only two people live in your home that has many rooms, it might be worthwhile to buy a 60-gallon water heater. This would add to the value of your home when you put it on the market. Don’t forget that your needs can change; children become teenagers and families grow. This is something to keep in mind before you purchase a water heater.

Your water heater’s quality

To find out whether the water heater model you are eyeing is low-end or high-end, you can obviously rely on the price of the unit, but you can also check the manufacturer’s warranty. If the model has a six-year warranty on the tank and a one-year warranty on the thermostat, it’s an indication that the quality is poorer. On the other hand, if the warranty offered is 8 to 12 years for the tank, that’s a high-quality water heater!

It is recommended to get a specialist to inspect your appliance when it reaches the end of its useful life. Some insurers will refuse to cover your home if your water heater is too old because of the frequency of losses due to worn-out water heaters. Furthermore, if you own an income property, you should know that more and more insurers exclude any damage caused by water heaters that are over 12 years old. Thus, it is crucial to double-check this clause with your broker.

Don’t forget that it is always best to contact a specialist if you have any doubts. We are here to help… We don’t want you to follow the example of the improvised plumber who ended of spending a lot more money in the end!

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