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Replace the Ailing Water Heater or Repair It? The 3 Deciding Factors

Your water heater is an important component of your Orlando area home. But when your hot showers turn frigid or your basement becomes a pool of leaking water, this comfort unit quickly becomes a big problem. When your water heater breaks down, you must decide whether to repair or replace, and fast.

If your home has a conventional storage-tank water heater that has seen a decade or more of use, replacement probably will be necessary. The good news is that today’s models are up to 20 percent more energy efficient, saving homeowners hundreds of dollars in energy bills over their lifetime. Besides age, the other two primary factors determining whether to repair or replace are condition and budget.

Storage-tank water heaters are simple in design. The tank filters in cold water and heats it by way of either an electric element or gas burner. Once heated, the water remains in the tank, being reheated as needed, until a household member turns on a tap and the hot water flows to the desired faucet. When a storage tank water heater breaks down, it is usually an issue with one of the following key parts:

  • A broken pilot light
  • Tripped circuit breaker
  • Failed heating element or gas burner
  • Broken thermostat
  • Sticking valve
  • A rusted-out tank that begins leaking

With the exception of the final issue, a rusted-out tank, these other malfunctions can usually be repaired at far less than the replacement cost of the unit. Unfortunately, the primary reason that storage tank water heaters fail is a tank that becomes corroded with rust and begins leaking.

If your water heater begins leaking, or has had years of hard water running through its tank, you’ll want to replace the unit. Homeowners today have several replacement options. You can choose a more energy-efficient conventional storage tank heater, or you can look into ever greater energy efficiency with tankless, heat pump or solar water heaters. While these latter options can cost more upfront in product and installation costs, they can save you ample money in energy costs over their lifetime. Additionally, if you purchase and install an energy-efficient water heater before January 2014, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit.

For more information, contact our Central Florida experts at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about water heater and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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