Quick Water Heater Tips for New Home Buyers
Why Look at the Water Heater When Purchasing a New Home?
When buying a new home, water heater health and efficiency probably aren’t at the top of many home seekers’ dream lists; however, few things impact comfort or quality of life at home more than the water heater. Frequently, homeowners don’t think about how essential a functioning water heater is until they experience an unexpected and unwelcome blast of cold water. When a water heater isn’t working properly, it impacts so many basic needs: running the dishwasher, doing laundry, and yes, taking a hot shower or bath.
While a water heater may not be as exciting as that master bath with soaking tub or gourmet kitchen with marble countertops, it warrants consideration on walk-throughs or home inspections. Efficiency, tank capacity, and age are all things to consider to ensure that your new home meets your family’s hot water needs—now and well into the future.
How Long Will Your Water Heater Last?
The typical lifespan of a water heater is 10-12 years with proper maintenance. Be sure to check the age of the unit and any available maintenance records. If the age of the water heater falls within that range, you may soon need to replace it.
The average cost for a new water heater varies with efficiency ratings and tank capacity. While it doesn’t need to be a deal breaker when it comes to your dream home, it is something to consider when making an offer or negotiating.
You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Tank
Tank capacity is another important issue to consider. It’s critical to make sure a home’s water heater is the right size for your family’s hot water needs. An over-sized water heater can lead to unnecessarily large utility bills. One that’s too small means that hot water won’t last (and someone will be taking a cold shower.) As a rule of thumb, a family of four will require at least a 50-gallon water heater.
Also, just because you are looking at a larger home, don’t assume that the tank is appropriately sized. Many homes on the market are underserved by their water heaters. If the sellers are empty nesters, the kids may have moved on. To save money, the homeowner may have downsized to a smaller unit. There may be other special considerations as well. If the home has a jacuzzi or soaking tub (or if you have plans to add one), a larger capacity water tank may be necessary.
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Warning Signs That a Water Heater May Not Be So Hot
In addition to age, there are a few other indicators or signals that a water heater may require repair or replacement.
Tinted or rusty water
Check the water that comes out the hot water tap. If it has a slight brownish or rusty cast it could be signs of water heater trouble. (Note: Rusty water coming out of the cold faucet is more likely to be rust in the pipes. Rust on the unit itself could also be a sign of problems to come. Many tanks have steel rods is to slow down tank corrosion. Once that rod degrades, rust can appear on other parts of your tank.
Leaking water around the tank
Leaking water around the tank is a major red flag. A compromised tank nearly always needs to be replaced. Unaddressed, the results can be catastrophic—damaging floors, walls, and more depending on the location of the tank. Water on the top of the heater is probably a less severe issue. But it should be noted and questioned as well.
Rumble, banging or knocking noises
Although this is less likely to be experienced on a walk-through or inspection, loud rumbling or banging sounds from an operating water heater are also a sign that the unit may be on its last legs. However, quiet ticking and other small sounds are normal during the water- heating process.
Cold or lukewarm water from hot taps
If water doesn’t feel hot enough, it’s most likely a heating element or thermostat issue. As with all frequently-used appliances, parts will lose functionality or efficiency over time. Sometimes, these parts can be replaced. More often, these issues are signs of things to come. In the long run, it may be more cost-effective to replace the unit. Be sure to consult with a professional to assess the situation, and plan next steps.
A comfortable home is a happy home
When you’re buying a house, there’s so much to keep in mind. However, don’t forget the essential systems that you’ll rely on every day for the comfort of your family. The operation of your water heater, furnace, and air conditioning should be critical parts of the home buying decision.
For over 30 years, Horizon Services has delivered expert plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services to homeowners in your neighborhood. If you have questions about evaluating the essential systems in your potential new home, give us a call today at (302) 200-4266.