Should I Repair Or Replace My Old Water Heater?

Got a busted water heater? It’s tough deciding whether to repair or to move on and replace it.

But we’ll make the decision easy for you. Ask yourself these 3 questions and based on your answers, you’ll know exactly what to do.

How severe is the problem?

Is the water heater’s tank corroded and leaking? You can’t salvage that. So, replacing it is your only option. However, a leaky drain valve or a pressure-relief valve can be repaired.

For the various problems that can be repaired, suggests first finding a repair estimate. Then weigh that against the cost of getting a new water heater.

Obviously, the cost of a new water heater depends on:

  • The water heater
  • The installation rates of the plumber

But here are some general estimates from

Note: The cost to install a tankless water heater may be higher than mentioned here since there’s additional plumbing that needs to be done if you’ve never had a tankless water heater.

If the cost of repairs is at or near half the cost of getting a new water heater, consider a new water heater. Of course, the older the water heater, the less tolerant you should be of the cost of repairing it

Speaking of age…

How old is the water heater?

Here are the average lifespans of water heaters:

  • Storage water heater’s average lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Tankless water heater: 20+ years.

Of course, if you’ve never had annual water heater maintenance, your water heater’s life will be much lower than these averages. So, keep that in mind.

If your water heater is nearing the end of its life and it’s no longer covered under its warranty, it’s wise to get a new water heater. Even if the repair cost isn’t high.


Because, chances are, you’ll be repairing it next year anyway. And you’ll be kicking yourself that you paid money into a water heater that will die soon.

How often have I complained about hot water at home?

Do you find yourself complaining about the lack of hot water? Low water pressure? High water heating bills?

If so, then, combined with the expensive repair and old age factors, it’s time to replace the water heater.

Storage vs. tankless water heaters

If you decide to replace your water heater, consider if you want a storage water heater or a tankless (on demand) water heater.

Check out our brief buyer’s guide: “Water Heater Buyers’ Guide – Tankless or Traditional?”

Get accurate estimates

Mr. Plumber has been serving the plumbing needs of homeowners in the greater Atlanta metro area since 1966. 

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