Everything You Need To Know About Water Heater Replacement
Are you thinking that it may be time to replace your water heater, but you’re not sure?  At Ultimate Plumbing, we can help you figure it out.  Our water heater replacement services are top notch!  Here are a few things you need to look for to determine if your water heater is beyond repair.

  • Hot water from your water heater is a rusty color.  Having water that is rusty is a sign that your water heater may be rusting away.  A rusty water heater can cause all sorts of damage, and it will cause the water heater to eventually leak.  A leaky water heater can cause flooding, water damage, and mold and mildew problems in your home.  At Ultimate Plumbing, our water heater replacement services can prevent this from happening, saving you the hassle of a big cleanup.
  • You can hear banging and rumbling sounds coming from your water heater.  This means that sediment is building up in your water heater, which causes it to make a banging and rumbling sound.  Sediment buildup is really dangerous to your water heater because it causes damage to the tank, often creating small holes.  Sediment buildup also causes your water heater to be less efficient because it uses more electricity or gas to heat your water.
  • Your water heater is leaking. Even if you just notice a small amount of water around your water heater, this could indicate you have a small crack in your tank.  A leaking water heater can cause a lot of damage, and it is best to have it replaced.
  • Your water heater is more than 10 years old.  Age is a great way to determine if you need to replace your water heater.  The average water heater is good for about 10 years.  If you are unsure how old your water heater actually is, you can locate the serial number on the tank. Most manufactures include the date in the serial number.  If your water heater is over 10 years old and you have any other problems we have mentioned, it is a sure sign you need a new water heater.

Water Heater Repair Frequently Asked Questions


These are some of the most popular water heater questions we at Ultimate Plumbing receive from clients. Bear in mind that each type of water heater has different requirements to install, repair and replace it, making it difficult to give one catch-all answer for many case-specific questions without inspecting the existing unit and the installation setup directly. However, this FAQ will give you at least some idea of what to expect concerning your water heater.  


Shanice from Kannapolis asks, “What is the average cost to replace a water heater?”

There are several different kinds of hot water heaters, which lead to a lot of variables to unpack. The brand, such as Bradford White, Reliant, Rheem or Kenmore, and the fuel source your water heater relies on, are the first and most obvious data points we need. A natural gas water heater, electric water heaters, solar water heaters and tankless units all have different requirements for care, maintenance and replacement. It’s best to see your unit in place so we can give you an honest, accurate assessment of the time and labor involved in repairing or replacing the unit, including the cost to install a new one. Depending on what’s wrong with the installed water heater, it may be possible to repair the unit instead of replacing it, extending the life of your water heater without compromising performance or safety.


Mike from Ballentyne asks, “How often do water heaters need to be replaced?”

Most installed water heaters have an operational lifespan of 8-12 years, which makes them one of the most common recurring expenses for home repairs. Because gas or electric water heaters, tanked water heaters and tankless heaters all work differently, with different fuel sources and moving parts, it’s best to consult the water heater buying guide or owner’s manual which came with the system to find out how long the manufacturer says your water heater should last. Your water heater might be under warranty, which could help significantly reduce the cost of repair or to replace the water heater if needed. 


Bryson from Sherrills Ford asks, “How do you know if your water heater is going out?”

Some common warning signs that your water heater is ailing or failing include:

  • For gas water heaters, the pilot light won’t stay lit, or your have to light the pilot several times in a short window. This could indicate a faulty gas valve, a block in the gas lines, faulty supply pipes or a leak within the unit itself. If you suspect a problem with your gas and water lines, or if you smell a strong rotten egg odor from your water heater, you need to call in a professional plumber fast! Just because the pilot light isn’t lit doesn’t mean the gas pipes aren’t still supplying gas to the unit. Locate the shutoff valves for the gas supply and water and contact Ultimate Plumbing as soon as possible. 
  • You’ve turned up the water heater temperature, but the water comes out lukewarm or cold when you need the water in the tank to be hot. In this case, your water heater element may need to be replaced.
  • You notice your water heater leaking. If you go to check the pilot light and see standing water, even if it’s just a little, you could have a leak from the water pipe or the hot water heater tanks. If left uncorrected, this could lead to water damage later. A licensed plumber can evaluate the situation and determine where the leak is coming from. Shut off the water and call Ultimate Plumbing as soon as possible.
  • If you notice rust or an unsettling reddish color in your water, you should check to see if it only happens when you turn on the hot water or if you’re getting it from the cold water lines too. 
    • If you see red from both water supplies, there may be a problem with your water main or its fittings, such red clay infiltration into the line from a crack in the main. 
    • If you only see rust when you use the hot water, this likely indicates faulty anode rods. These devices are designed to corrode before the steel inside the tank does through a process known as electrolysis, and typically last 4-5 years between replacements. If your anode rod has corroded beyond its capability to protect the water heater or its expansion tanks, it won’t be able to function properly, leading to rust in the system. Replacing the anode rod has in many cases extended the life of water heater expansion tanks, allowing added years of service. When it’s time to replace the anode rod, it may be necessary to drain the water from the unit, particularly in the case of some tank-style electric and gas units. 
  • If you notice the energy cost to run your hot water is increasing disproportionately to its actual usage, this could indicate there’s a problem and it’s time to replace the water heater. Oftentimes, the first indication homeowners and tenants have of a problem with their water heater is when they realize the water heater’s cost to operate has gone up. 


Billie from Fort Mill asks, “Why shouldn’t people install their own water heaters when it’s time to replace them?”

Especially in the case of a DIY bathroom remodel or appliances repair, such as replacing your washing machine’s agitator, it can be tempting to swap out the water heater at the same time. There are a number of reasons why we don’t suggest homeowners or their representatives replace their own water heaters, most of them grounded in safety. If any of a dozen things are not done properly and in the exact order needed, your water heater may not work or could even actively cause water damage to your home or place its occupants in danger. Also, installing a water heater without retaining a trained professional plumber may void the warranty in many models, leaving you stuck with an expensive repair bill if your water heater goes pear-shaped later. If you need appliance repairs or to replace your water heater, a licensed plumber can save you a lot of headaches and hidden costs later.


John from Davidson asks, “What are the most common mistakes people make when installing a new water heater?”

 Some people think installing a water heater is a simple project which can be done in 15 minutes with a screwdriver and a pipe wrench. Nothing could be further from the truth! Here are just a few mistakes DIYers make when replacing a water heater. 

  • Damaging the pipes. Gas lines, water lines and venting pipe all typically have one thing in common in modern construction: plastic pipe. While some older construction uses brass, copper or lead pipe, PVC and other rigid and flexible plastics have been a part of the building code for most of fifty years. Damaging these pipes can lead to water damage, gas leaks, inefficient performance and even cause fire, life safety and structural risks to your home and the people who live there. 
  • They don’t connect the gas, dip tubes and power vent properly. Propane and natural gas are very safe and economical ways to power a water heater, if used wisely and with respect. However, an oversight as small and simple as not adequately tightening the collar down at the connection between the heater and the gas line can cause leaks and a dangerous situation for you and your family. If you don’t connect the heater to the dip tubes correctly, the water heater may drain in places you don’t want it to, resulting in water damage. If your water heating system has a power vent and the heater isn’t properly connected to the vent, poisonous combustion gases can build up in the enclosure. 
  •  They don’t test the valves for proper function. Modern water heaters are designed with a number of safety devices and regulators, including drain valves, the internal ball valve and the temperature and pressure relief valve. If any control valve fails, it could cause your water heater not to work or lead to water damage and other problems. A skilled plumber will test the function of the valves and make sure everything is working the way it should before the water heater is turned on, and then again once the unit is operational.


Ricky from Mooresville asks, “Can pests cause my water heater to malfunction?”

Vermin and small animals such as spiders, insects, rodents, raccoons and even the state marsupial, the possum, may be drawn to the warmth from your water heater’s heat pump, especially during the fall and winter months. Some of these critters may gnaw, chew or claw at the plastic pipes and surrounding structures. Over time, the damage caused by animal infestations can cause problems with the water heater’s proper operation and lead to problems such as illness spread by fecal matter and urine in the space, bodies left by dead and decaying animals or gas leaking from compromised pipes. 

Here are some measures you can take to make sure your water heater is protected from pests and ready for whatever the season ahead can throw at you:

  • Keep your home’s exterior painting fresh and do a thorough pressure washing at least once a year. Animals are more likely to be attracted to poorly maintained homes and buildings than ones where the exterior is kept in good trim.
  • At the first sign of an infestation, call a reputable pest control company to get rid of unwanted houseguests and squatters.
  • Have your water heater inspected by a professional plumber on the following schedule:
    • If you have 1-2 people in your home, the water heater should be inspected every six months and drained at least once a year, ideally every 12 months.
    • If you have 3-5 people in the home, inspect every four months and drain the water heater every 8 months. 
    • For homes with 6+ people, you should inspect every four months and drain the water heater every 6 months. 

Note: Your water heater’s manufacturer may have different recommendations. Always follow those recommendations when and where they differ, as failure to do so may void the warranty for your water heater. Also, you may need to drain your water heater more frequently if your primary water source is a well or another source which produces a lot of soil and sediment in addition to your water.