When Should You Replace Your Hot Water Heater?

When Should You Replace Your Hot Water Heater?

If you have acquired a previously owned home, you may be unsure of its water heater’s age (although this information might be included in the Declarations by the Seller). Or perhaps, you have recently noticed that the heater is not working properly. In either case, read on to learn how to determine when you must replace it.

You can easily find your hot water heater’s manufacture date on its label or its specification sheet. Many factors can influence a heater’s lifespan. For example, water with high levels of sulphur, limestone, or iron (and this is often the case with artesian wells) will significantly shorten a tank’s lifespan. Lower-end models also tend to rust more quickly. Regardless, it should usually be replaced after 10 years of use.

When buying a new unit, it’s important to make sure it meets Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards, especially regarding the quality of the tank’s insulation material.

Just a Malfunctioning Heating Element?

Throughout its service life, your hot water heater may malfunction without necessarily needing to be replaced. For example, if there is a drop in the volume of hot water available. While previously everyone in the family could enjoy a hot shower one after the other, now by the time it’s your turn to wash, the water is lukewarm. Another possible issue is water that never reaches the desired temperature. In both cases the cause may be a broken heating element. Replacing it will solve the problem.

More Serious Warning Signs

However, for some problems, the hot water heater as a whole will have to be replaced:

  • The water is cloudy and reddish.
  • Rust is present along the tank’s bottom (which may indicate a leak).
  • Droplets are appearing on its outside walls. 

Tips to Extend Your Water Heater’s Service Life

You have determined that you need a new hot water heater. Keep in mind that a unit’s lifespan depends on how it is installed. Electrical and plumbing building codes and standards must be followed. Transport may also impact durability: to prevent breaks the tank must remain upright at all times during the journey to your property. The manufacturer could even cancel the warranty because of improper handling, such as laying the heater flat in your pickup truck’s bed. Furthermore, if your water heater is supplied by a well, it’s recommended that you fully drain it once a year to ensure optimal water quality (no maintenance is required for a water heater connected to an aqueduct). Gas-fired models should also be emptied once a year, or as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions.


Insurance companies regularly receive water damage claims from homeowners due to a hot water heater that should have been replaced. And gas-fired models in poor condition are just as prone to leaking. Two more reasons to remain vigilant!

RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

A leader in the real estate industry since 1982, the RE/MAX network brings together the most efficient brokers.