Storage tank hot water heaters are generally not problematic until the day the tank springs a leak or the heating element fails. Deciding to repair or replace the unit comes down to a few factors: age, type of damage, and cost. You'll want to make a quick decision since no one wants to be stuck showering without hot water, even in temperate eastern Virginia.

Leaking Tank

Considering the tank holds 40 gallons or more of water, you'll want a wet/dry vacuum on hand to clean up your flooded basement. Shut off the water supply immediately so water doesn't continue to pour out. Leaks occur because minerals in the water have corroded the tank's interior surface over time. In this case, repair is not an option.

Repairable Issues

Water heaters are fairly simple appliances containing no moving parts: Water enters the tank, a gas- or electric-powered element heats the water, and the hot water is distributed throughout the home when demanded. Therefore, these few basic issues can occur, each of which is fixable:

  • Thermostat breaks
  • Gas heater pilot light goes out
  • Gas burner or electric heating element fails
  • Pressure-relief valve sticks

Cost and Age

The question of making repairs comes down to cost and the age of the water heater. If the storage tank heater has reached the eight-year or older mark, it's worth looking at a replacement. New tank heaters are more energy-efficient, while an older storage tank is at risk of leaking. Next, you'll want to compare the cost of a replacement part, the labor costs of a plumber, and the remaining longevity of the heater. If these costs outweigh the purchase and installation of a brand new unit, then replacement is a probable answer.

It comes down to cost analysis and price shopping, and figuring out how many years of the heater's life your money will buy you. The younger your heater is, the more likely a repair makes sense over replacement.

For more information on resolving your water heater needs, contact Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today at (804) 329-1800.

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