Should I Replace My 20-Year-Old Water Heater?

Plumber Works on a Water Heater Replacement.

Water Heater Replacement

As a homeowner, to save yourself surprises of unexpected major expenses, it is important to know the indicators that an appliance or component is coming to the end of life. When you need a new water heater, the team at Chattanooga Water Heater Co. are the experienced professionals to trust for water heater replacement in Chattanooga, TN. Get on our schedule today by calling 423-718-7342.   

How often are hot water heaters replaced?

The average lifespan of a water heater is between 8 and 12 years old. So, if your water heater has reached the 20-year mark, it is time to start researching a water heater replacement. Besides the age though, there are other indicators that you should be planning on a water heater replacement sooner than later, such as: 


The interior of a water heater is a steel liner, and while it is a strong metal, being exposed to water 24/7, it can begin to rust. As the rust slowly spreads, it begins rusting through the steel. At this point, the water coming from the faucets and other water outlets looks rusty, it may be time for a water heater replacement, or it may be an issue with the plumbing. 

Before you make that water heater replacement purchase, drain 2 or 3 buckets of water from the tank. By the 3rd bucket, if the water is still rusty, purchase that new water heater. 


Another indication that you may need a new water heater replacement is if the current one has started making loud noises like clanking, growling, and rumbling.  This is typically because of sediment build-up over time. 

However, before you purchase a water heater replacement, follow the instructions in the owner’s manual to flush the unit. This should be done every 2-3 years and can lengthen the lifespan. After you’ve flushed the tank, if it continues to make those sounds, proceed with a water heater replacement. 


As a water heater nears its end of life, it may start leaking water from the bottom or sides. If you’re noticing water on the floor, check all the water connections on the unit and make sure they are tight. If they are, then you should start shopping for a water heater replacement. 


If you’re not getting hot water, you can’t get a full tub of hot water, a water heater replacement is on the horizon, probably sooner than later. 

How much is a brand-new water heater?

A new water heater replacement cost can vary based on the brand and model, the tank size, and the power source.  They can start around $800 and go up, but remember, this doesn’t include installation. What is the average labor cost to replace a hot water tank? Like the water heater unit, the cost of labor can’t be generalized either. 

Some plumbers may charge a flat rate based on the brand, size, and power source. But most plumbers charge by the hour for labor plus parts, including the water heater replacement and the components and parts needed to install the unit.

Can I install a water heater myself?

If you’re a handyman DIY homeowner with the right tools, yes, you can install your own water. However, in most municipalities, a permit is required for water heater replacement installation and other type of work. To pull a permit, a license and proof of insurance are needed, which a plumber will have. 

Additionally, consider the warranty with the water heater replacement. Most manufacturers will not honor their product warranty if it isn’t installed by a licensed professional. Then there is the plumber’s warranty, if you have any issues once the water heater installation is completed, their workmanship will be warranted. 

What’s included in a water heater installation?

A typical professional water heater replacement installation will take approximately two hours. During this time, the plumber will shut the water off at the main and turn off any electricity or gas power to the unit, and then proceed with the following steps: 

  • Cut the water lines between the wall and the tank.
  • Remove the unit and drain pan. 
  • Position a new drain pan. 
  • Attach the new TPR valve (temperature and pressure relief).
  • Attach the pipe assemblies.
  • Attach the water lines.
  • Reattach the vent if you have a gas-powered water heater replacement. 
  • Check for back drafting and bubbles.
  • Turn the power and water back on and check for leaks.
A New Water Heater

It’s Time To Hit The Shower! 

Whether you do the job yourself, or as we recommend, have your water heater replacement professionally installed, it is time to hit the shower, load the dishwasher or washing machine!  Have your plumber either quote you a maintenance contract that includes them doing a tank flush every 2 years, or how to do your own water heater flush. 

The owner’s manual will have this process explained as well, but having a one-on-one explanation can make it easier to understand the process. Either way, flushing the unit as recommended is essential in extending the lifespan of your water heater replacement in Chattanooga, TN. Call now at 423-718-7342 to get the installation process started.